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Everyman, I will go with thee, and be thy guide, 
In thy most need to go by thy side. 

This is No. 9 of Everyman s Library 





Rome in April, A.D. 121, the son of the 
prefect of the city and a consul. He was 
himself made consul in 140 and became 
emperor in 161. Died in Pannonia on 
March 180, 




All rights reserved 

J. M. Dent 6- Sons Ltd. 

Aldine House Bedford St. London 

First issue of this edition 1906 

Last reprinted 1948 


T. H. Best Printing Co., Limited, Toronto 









SIXTH BOOK ........ 57 

SEVENTH BOOK ..... ... 72 


NINTH BOOK ........ 104 





NOTES . . . i?5 

GLOSSARY . . *?9 

x Introduction 

courage to encounter the fiercest boars. At the same time, 
he was kept from the extravagancies of his day. The great 
excitement in Rome was the strife of the Factions, as they 
were called, in the circus. The racing drivers used to adopt 
one of four colours red, blue, white, or green and their 
partisans showed an eagerness in supporting them which 
nothing could surpass. Riot and corruption went in the 
train of the racing chariots ; and from all these things 
Marcus held severely aloof. 

In 140 Marcus was raised to the consulship, and in 145 
his betrothal was consummated by marriage. Two years 
later Faustina brought him a daughter; and soon after 
the tribunate and other imperial honours were conferred 
upon him. 

Antoninus Pius died in 161, and Marcus assumed the 
imperial state. He at once associated with himself L. 
Ceionius Commodus, whom Antoninus had adopted as a 
younger son at the same time with Marcus, giving him 
the name of Lucius Aurelius Verus. Henceforth the two 
are colleagues in the empire, the junior being trained as 
it were to succeed. No sooner was Marcus settled upon 
the throne than wars broke out on all sides. In the east, 
Vologeses III. of Parthia began a long-meditated revolt 
by destroying a whole Roman Legion and invading Syria 
(162). Verus was sent off in hot haste to quell this 
rising; and he fulfilled his trust by plunging into drunken 
ness and debauchery, while the war was left to his officers. 
Soon after Marcus had to face a more serious danger at 
home in the coalition of several powerful tribes on the 
northern frontier. Chief among those were the Marcomanni 
or Marchmen, the Quadi (mentioned in this book), the 
Sarmatians, the Catti, the Jazyges. In Rome itself there 
was pestilence and starvation, the one brought from the 
east by Verus s legions, the other caused by floods which 
had destroyed vast quantities of grain. After all had been 
done possible to allay famine and to supply pressing needs 
Marcus being forced even to sell the imperial jewels to 
find money both emperors set forth to a struggle which 
was to continue more or less during the rest of Marcus s 

Introduction xi 

reign. During these wars, in 169, Verus died. We have 
no means of following the campaigns in detail ; but thus 
much is certain, that in the end the Romans succeeded in 
crushing the barbarian tribes, and effecting a settlement 
which made the empire more secure. Marcus was himself 
commander-in-chief, and victory was due no less to his own 
ability than to his wisdom in choice of lieutenants, shown 
conspicuously in the case of Pertinax. There were several 
important battles fought in these campaigns ; and one of 
them has become celebrated for the legend of the Thunder 
ing Legion. In a battle against the Quadi in 174, the day 
seemed to be going in favour of the foe, when on a sudden 
arose a great storm of thunder and rain : the lightning 
struck the barbarians with terror, and they turned to rout. 
In later days this storm was said to have been sent in 
answer to the prayers of a legion which contained many 
Christians, and the name Thundering Legion should be 
given to it on this account. The title of Thundering Legion 
is known at an earlier date, so this part of the story at least 
cannot be true ; but the aid of the storm is acknowledged 
by one of the scenes carved on Antonine s Column at Rome, 
which commemorates these wars. 

The settlement made after these troubles might have 
been more satisfactory but for an unexpected rising in the 
east. Avidius Cassius, an able captain who had won renown 
in the Parthian wars, was at this time chief governor of the 
eastern provinces. By whatever means induced, he had 
conceived the project of proclaiming himself emperor as 
soon as Marcus, who was then in feeble health, should die ; 
and a report having been conveyed to him that Marcus was 
dead, Cassius did as he had planned. Marcus, on hearing 
the news, immediately patched up a peace and returned 
home to meet this new peril. The emperor s great grief 
was that he must needs engage in the horrors of civil strife. 
He praised the qualities of Cassius, and expressed a heart 
felt wish that Cassius might not be driven to do himself a 
hurt before he should have the opportunity to grant a free 
pardon. But before he could come to the east news had 
come to Cassius that the emperor still lived ; his followers 

xii Introduction 

fell away from him, and he was assassinated. Marcus now 
went to the east, and while there the murderers brought 
the head of Cassius to him ; but the emperor indignantly 
refused their gift, nor would he admit the men to his 

On this journey his wife, Faustina, died. At his return 
the emperor celebrated a triumph (176). Immediately after 
wards he repaired to Germany, and took up once more the 
burden of war. His operations were followed by complete 
success ; but the troubles of late years had been too much 
for his constitution, at no time robust, and on March 17, 
1 80, he died in Pannonia. 

The good emperor was not spared domestic troubles. 
Faustina had borne him several children, of whom he was 
passionately fond. Their innocent faces may still be seen 
in many a sculpture gallery, recalling with odd effect the 
dreamy countenance of their father. But they died one by 
one, and when Marcus came to his own end only one of his 
sons still lived the weak and worthless Commodus. On 
his father s death Commodus, who succeeded him, undid 
the work of many campaigns by a hasty and unwise peace ; 
and his reign of twelve years proved him to be a ferocious 
and bloodthirsty tyrant. Scandal has made free with the 
name of Faustina herself, who is accused not only of un 
faithfulness, but of intriguing with Cassius and egging him 
on to his fatal rebellion. It must be admitted that these 
charges rest on no sure evidence ; and the emperor, at all 
events, loved her dearly, nor ever felt the slightest qualm 
of suspicion. 

As a soldier we have seen that Marcus was both capable 
and successful ; as an administrator he was prudent and 
conscientious. Although steeped in the teachings of philo 
sophy, he did not attempt to remodel the world on any 
preconceived plan. He trod the path beaten by his pre 
decessors, seeking only to do his duty as well as he could, 
and to keep out corruption. He did some unwise things, it 
is true. To create a compeer in empire, as he did with 
Verus, was a dangerous innovation which could only succeed 
if one of the two effaced himself ; and under Diocletian this 

Introduction xiii 


very precedent caused the Roman Empire to split into 
halves. He erred in his civil administration by too much 
centralising. But the strong point of his reign was the 
administration of justice. Marcus sought bylaws to protect 
the weak, to make the lot of the slaves less hard, to stand in 
place of father to the fatherless. Charitable foundations 
were endowed for rearing and educating poor children. 
The provinces were protected against oppression, and 
public help was given to cities or districts which might 
be visited by calamity. The great blot on his name, and 
one hard indeed to explain, is his treatment of the Chris 
tians. In his reign Justin at Rome became a martyr to his 
faith, and Polycarp at Smyrna, and we know of many 
outbreaks of fanaticism in the provinces which caused the 
death of the faithful. It is no excuse to plead that he knew 
nothing about the atrocities done in his name : it was his 
duty to know, and if he did not he would have been the 
first to confess that he had failed in his duty. But from his 
own tone in speaking of the Christians it is clear he knew 
them only from calumny ; and we hear of no measures 
taken even to secure that they should have a fair hearing. 
In this respect Trajan was better than he. 

To a thoughtful mind such a religion as that of Rome would 
give small satisfaction. Its legends were often childish 
or impossible ; its teaching had little to do with morality. 
The Roman religion was in fact of the nature of a bargain : 
men paid certain sacrifices and rites, and the gods granted 
their favour, irrespective of right or wrong. In this case all 
devout souls were thrown back upon philosophy, as they 
had been, though to a less extent, in Greece. There were 
under the early empire two rival schools which practically 
divided the field between them, Stoicism and Epicureanism. 
The ideal set before each was nominally much the same. 
The Stoics aspired to aTrdOtia, the repression of all emotion, 
and the Epicureans to drapa^ia, freedom from all disturbance; 
yet in the upshot the one has become a synonym of stubborn 
endurance, the other for unbridled licence. With Epicure 
anism we have nothing to do now ; but it will be worth 
while to sketch the history and tenets of the Stoic sect. 

xiv Introduction 

Zeno, the founder of Stoicism, was born in Cyprus at 
some date unknown, but his life may be said roughly to be 
between the years 350 and 250 B.C. Cyprus has been from 
time immemorial a meeting-place of the East and West, 
and although we cannot grant any importance to a possible 
strain of Phoenician blood in him (for the Phoenicians were 
no philosophers), yet it is quite likely that through Asia 
Minor he may have come in touch with the Far East. He 
studied under the cynic Crates, but he did not neglect other 
philosophical systems. After many years study he opened 
his own school in a colonnade in Athens called the Painted 
Porch, or Stoa, which gave the Stoics their name. Next to 
Zeno, the School of the Porch owes most to Chrysippus 
(280-207 B.C.), who organised Stoicism into a system. Of 
him it was said, 

But for Chrysippus, there had been no Porch." 

The Stoics regarded speculation as a means to an end ; 
and that end was, as .eno put it, to live consistently 
(b/j.o\oyov[j.e>>ws f^), or as it was later explained, to live in 
conformity with nature (o/xoXo-yoi^tVws rrj <pu<rei p}j>). This con 
forming of the life to nature was the Stoic idea of Virtue. 
This dictum might easily be taken to mean that virtue 
consists in yielding to each natural impulse ; but that was 
very far from the Stoic meaning. In order to live in accord 
with nature, it is necessary to know what nature is ; and 
to this end a threefold division of philosophy is made into 
Physics, dealing with the universe and its laws, the problems 
of divine government and teleology; Logic, which trains the 
mind to discern true from false ; and Ethics, which applies 
the knowledge thus gained and tested to practical life. 

The Stoic system of physics was materialism with an 
infusion of pantheism. In contradiction to Plato s view 
that the Ideas, or Prototypes, of phenomena alone really 
exist, the Stoics held that material objects alone existed ; 
but immanent in the material universe was a spiritual force 
which acted through them, manifesting itself under many 
forms, as fire, aether, spirit, soul, reason, the ruling principle. 

Introduction xv 

The universe, then, is God, of whom the popular gods are 
manifestations ; while legends and myths are allegorical. 
The soul of man is thus an emanation from the godhead, 
into whom it will eventually be re-absorbed. The divine 
ruling principle makes all things work together for good, 
but for the good of the whole. The highest good of man 
is consciously to work with God for the common good, and 
this is the sense in which the Stoic tried to live in accord 
with nature. In the individual it is virtue alone which 
enables him to do this ; as Providence rules the universe, 
so virtue in the soul must rule man. 

In Logic, the Stoic system is noteworthy for their theory 
as to the test of truth, the Criterion. They compared the 
new-born soul to a sheet of paper ready for writing. Upon 
this the senses write their impressions (^wToo-tai), and by 
experience of a number of these the soul unconsciously 
conceives general notions (Koivai twoiat ) or anticipations 
(TrpoXTj^fis). When the impression was such as to be 
irresistible it was called Kara^irriKT] <f>avraaia, one that holds 
fast, or as they explained it, one proceeding from truth. 
Ideas and inferences artificially produced by deduction or 
the like were tested by this holding perception. 

Of the Ethical application I have already spoken. The 
highest good was the virtuous life. Virtue alone is happi 
ness, and vice is unhappiness. Carrying this theory to its 
extreme, the Stoic said that there could be no gradations 
between virtue and vice, though of course each has its 
special manifestations. Moreover, nothing is good but 
virtue, and nothing but vice is bad. Those outside things 
which are commonly called good or bad, such as health 
and sickness, wealth and poverty, pleasure and pain, are to 
him indifferent (a.8id<pof,a). All these things are merely 
the sphere in which virtue may act. The ideal Wise Man 
is sufficient unto himself in all things (avrapKri^ and 
knowing these truths, he will be happy even when stretched 
upon the rack. It is probable that no Stoic claimed for 
himself that he was this Wise Man, but that each strove 
after it as an ideal much as the Christian strives after a 
likeness to Christ. The exaggeration in this statement 


xvi Introduction 

was, however, so obvious, that the later Stoics were 
driven to make a further subdivision of things indifferent 
into what is preferable (irpotjjfjLfva) and what is undesirable 
(airoirpoTjyfjLti a. ). They also held that for him who had not 
attained to the perfect wisdom, certain actions were proper 
(KaOriKovra). These were neither virtuous nor vicious, but, 
like the indifferent things, held a middle place. 

Two points in the Stoic system deserve special mention. 
One is a careful distinction between things which are in 
our power and things which are not. Desire and dislike, 
opinion and affection, are within the power of the will; 
whereas health, wealth, honour, and other such are gene 
rally not so. The Stoic was called upon to control his 
desires and affections, and to guide his opinion ; to bring 
his whole being under the sway of the will or leading 
principle, just as the universe is guided and governed by 
divine Providence. This is a special application of the 
favourite Greek virtue of moderation -(o-dHfrpoa-vvT)), and has 
also its parallel in Christian ethics. The second point is 
a strong insistence on the unity of the universe, and on 
man s duty as part of a great whole. Public spirit was 
the most splendid political virtue of the ancient world, 
and it is here made cosmopolitan. It is again instructive 
to note that Christian sages insisted on the same thing. 
Christians are taught that they are members of a world 
wide brotherhood, where is neither Greek nor Hebrew, 
bond nor free ; and that they live their lives as fellow- 
workers with God. 

Such is the system which underlies the Meditations of 
Marcus Aurelius. Some knowledge of it is necessary to the 
right understanding of the book, but for us the chief interest 
lies elsewhere. We do not come to Marcus Aurelius for a 
treatise on Stoicism. He is no head of a school to lay 
down a body of doctrine for students ; he does not even 
contemplate that others should read what he writes. His 
philosophy is not an eager intellectual inquiry, but more 
what we should call religious feeling. The uncompromis 
ing stiffness of Zeno or Chrysippus is softened and trans 
formed by passing through a nature reverent and tolerant, 

Introduction xvii 

gentle and free from guile ; the grim resignation which 
made life possible to the Stoic sage becomes in him 
almost a mood of aspiration. His book records the 
inmost thoughts of his heart, set down to ease it, with 
such moral maxims and reflections as may help him to 
bear the burden of duty and the countless annoyances 
of a busy life. 

It is instructive to compare the Meditations with another 
famous book, the Imitation of Christ. There is the same 
ideal of self-control in both. It should be a man s task, 
says the Imitation, to overcome himself, and every day 
to be stronger than himself. In withstanding of the 
passions standeth very peace of heart. Let us set the 
axe to the root, that we being purged of our passions 
may have a peaceable mind. To this end there must be 
continual self-examination. If thou may not continually 
gather thyself together, namely sometimes do it, at least 
once a day, the morning or the evening. In the morning 
purpose, in the evening discuss the manner, what thou hast 
been this day, in word, work, and thought. But while the 
Roman s temper is a modest self-reliance, the Christian 
aims at a more passive mood, humbleness and meekness, 
and reliance on the presence and personal friendship of 
God. The Roman scrutinises his faults with severity, but 
without the self-contempt which makes the Christian vile 
in his own sight. The Christian, like the Roman, bids 
study to withdraw thine heart from the love of things 
visible ; but it is not the busy life of duty he has in mind 
so much as the contempt of all worldly things, and the 
cutting away of all lower delectations. Both rate men s 
praise or blame at their real worthlessness ; Let not thy 
peace, says the Christian, be in the mouths of men. 
But it is to God s censure the Christian appeals, the Roman 
to his own soul. The petty annoyances of injustice or 
unkindness are looked on by each with the same magna 
nimity. Why doth a little thing said or done against 
thee make thee sorry? It is no new thing; it is not the 
first, nor shall not be the last, if thou live long. At best 
suffer patiently, if thou canst not suffer joyously. The 

xviii Introduction 

Christian should sorrow more for other men s malice than 
for our own wrongs ; but the Roman is inclined to wash his 
hands of the offender. Study to be patient in suffering and 
bearing other men s defaults and all manner infirmities, 
says the Christian ; but the Roman would never have 
thought to add, If all men were perfect, what had we then 
to suffer of other men for God ? The virtue of suffering in 
itself is an idea which does not meet us in the Meditations. 
Both alike realise that man is one of a great community. 
No man is sufficient to himself, says the Christian ; we 
must bear together, help together, comfort together. But 
while he sees a chief importance in zeal, in exalted emotion 
that is, and avoidance of lukewarmness, the Roman thought 
mainly of the duty to be done as well as might be, and less 
of the feeling which should go with the doing of it. To the 
saint as to the emperor, the world is a poor thing at best. 
Verily it is a misery to live upon the earth, says the 
Christian ; few and evil are the days of man s life, which 
passeth away suddenly as a shadow. 

But there is one great difference between the two books 
we are considering. The Imitation is addressed to others, 
the Meditations by the writer to himself. We learn nothing 
from the Imitation of the author s own life, except in so far 
as he may be assumed to have practised his own preachings; 
the Meditations reflect mood by mood the mind of him who 
wrote them. In their intimacy and frankness lies their great 
charm. These notes are not sermons ; they are not even 
confessions. There is always an air of self-consciousness in 
confessions ; in such revelations there is always a danger of 
unctuousness or of vulgarity for the best of men. St. Augus 
tine is not always clear of offence, and John Bunyan him 
self exaggerates venial peccadilloes into heinous sins. But 
Marcus Aurelius is neither vulgar nor unctuous ; he ex 
tenuates nothing, but nothing sets down in malice. He 
never poses before an audience ; he may not be profound, 
he is always sincere. And it is a lofty and serene soul which 
is here disclosed before us. Vulgar vices seem to have no 
temptation for him ; this is not one tied and bound with 
chains which he strives to break. The faults he detects in 

Introduction xix 

himself are often such as most men would have no eyes to 
see. To serve the divine spirit which is implanted within 
him, a man must keep himself pure from all violent passion 
and evil affection, from all rashness and vanity, and from all 
manner of discontent, either in regard of the gods or men : 
or, as he says elsewhere, unspotted by pleasure, undaunted 
by pain. Unwavering courtesy and consideration are his 
aims. Whatsoever any man either doth or saith. thou must 
be good ; doth any man offend ? It is against himself that 
he doth offend : why should it trouble thee ? The offender 
needs pity.- not wrath ; those who must needs be corrected, 
should be treated with tact and gentleness ; and one must 
be always ready to learn better. The best kind of revenge 
is, not to become like unto them. There are so many hints 
of offence forgiven, that we may believe the notes followed 
sharp on the facts. Perhaps he has fallen short of his aim, 
and thus seeks to call his principles to mind, and to 
strengthen himself for the future. That these sayings are 
not mere talk is plain from the story of Avidius Cassius, who 
would have usurped his imperial throne. Thus the emperor 
faithfully carries out his own principle, that evil must be 
overcome with good. For each fault in others, Nature 
(says he) has given us a counteracting virtue; as, for 
example, against the unthankful, it hath given goodness and 
meekness, as an antidote. 

One so gentle towards a foe was sure to be a good friend; 
and indeed his pages are full of generous gratitude to those 
who had served him. In his First Book he sets down to 
account all the debts due to his kinsfolk and teachers. To 
his grandfather he owed his own gentle spirit, to his father 
shamefastness and courage ; he learnt of his mother to be 
religious and bountiful and single-minded. Rusticus did 
not work in vain, if he showed his pupil that his life needed 
amending. Apollonius taught him simplicity, reasonable 
ness, gratitude, a love of true liberty. So the list runs on ; 
every one he had dealings with seems to have given him 
something good, a sure proof of the goodness of his nature, 
which thought no evil. 

If his was that honest and true heart which is the Chris- 

xx Introduction 

tian ideal, this is the more wonderful in that he lacked the 
faith which makes Christians strong. He could say, it is 
true, either there is a God. and then all is well ; or if all 
things go by chance and fortune, yet mayest thou use thine 
own providence in those things that concern thee properly; 
and then art thou well. Or again, We must needs grant 
that there is a nature that doth govern the universe. But 
his own part in the scheme of things is so small, that he 
does not hope for any personal happiness beyond what a 
serene soul may win in this mortal life. O my soul, the 
time I trust will be, when thou shalt be good, simple, more 
open and visible, than that body by which it is enclosed; 
but this is said of the calm contentment with human lot 
which he hopes to attain, not of a time when the trammels 
of the body shall be cast off. For the rest, the world and 
its fame and wealth, all is vanity. The gods may perhaps 
have a particular care for him, but their especial care is 
for the universe at large : thus much should suffice. His 
gods are better than the Stoic gods, who sit aloof from all 
human things, untroubled and uncaring, but his personal 
hope is hardly stronger. On this point he says little, though 
there are many allusions to death as the natural end ; doubt 
less he expected his soul one day to be absorbed into the 
universal soul, since nothing comes out of nothing, and 
nothing can be annihilated. His mood is one of strenuous 
weariness ; he does his duty as a good soldier, waiting for 
the sound of the trumpet which shall sound the retreat ; he 
has not that cheerful confidence which led Socrates through 
a life no less noble, to a death which was to bring him into 
the company of gods he had worshipped and men whom he 
had revered. 

But although Marcus Aurelius may have held intellec 
tually that his soul was destined to be absorbed, and to lose 
consciousness of itself, there were times when he felt, as all 
who hold it must sometimes feel, how unsatisfying is such a 
creed. Then he gropes blindly after something less empty 
and vain. Thou hast taken ship, he says, thou hast 
sailed, thou art come to land, go out, if to another life, 
there also shalt thou find gods, who are everywhere. 

Introduction xxi 

There is more in this than the assumption of a rival 
theory for argument s sake. If worldly things ^be but as 
a dream, the thought is not far off that there may be an 
awakening to what is real. When he speaks of death as 
a necessary change, and points out that nothing useful and 
profitable can be brought about without change, did he 
perhaps think of the change in a corn of wheat, which is 
not quickened except it die ? Nature s marvellous power 
of recreating out of corruption is surely not confined to 
bodily things. Many of his thoughts sound like far-off 
echoes of St. Paul ; and it is strange indeed that this 
most Christian of emperors has nothing good to say of 
the Christians. To him they are only sectaries violently 
and passionately set upon opposition. 

Profound as philosophy these Meditations certainly are 
not ; but Marcus Aurelius was too sincere not to see the 
essence of such things as came within his experience. 
Ancient religions were for the most part concerned with 
outward things. Do the necessary rites, and you propitiate 
the gods ; and these rites were often trivial, sometimes 
violated right feeling or even morality. Even when the 
gods stood on the side of righteousness, they were con 
cerned with the act more than with the intent. But Marcus 
Aurelius knows that what the heart is full of, the man will 
do. Such as thy thoughts and ordinary cogitations are, 
he says, such will thy mind be in time. And every page 
of the book shows us that he knew thought was sure to 
issue in act. He drills his soul, as it were, in right prin 
ciples, that when the time comes, it may be guided by 
them. To wait until the emergency is to be too late. 

He sees also the true essence of happiness. If hap 
piness did consist in pleasure, how came notorious robbers, 
impure abominable livers, parricides, and tyrants, in so 
large a measure to have their part of pleasures? He who 
had all the world s pleasures at command can write thus : 
A happy lot and portion is, good inclinations of the soul, 
good desires, good actions. 

By the irony of fate this man, so gentle and good, so 
desirous of quiet joys and a mind free from care, was set 

xxii Introduction 

at the head of the Roman Empire when great dangers 
threatened from east and west. For several years he 
himself commanded his armies in chief. In camp before 
the Quadi he dates the first book of his Meditations^ and 
shows how he could retire within himself amid the coarse 
clangour of arms. The pomps and glories which he 
despised were all his ; what to most men is an ambition 
or a dream, to him was a round of weary tasks which 
nothing but the stern sense of duty could carry him 
through. And he did his work well. His wars were slow 
and tedious, but successful. With a statesman s wisdom 
he foresaw the danger to Rome of the barbarian hordes 
from the north, and took measures to meet it. As it was, 
his settlement gave two centuries of respite to the Roman 
Empire ; had he fulfilled the plan of pushing the imperial 
frontiers to the Elbe, which seems to have been in his 
mind, much more might have been accomplished. But 
death cut short his designs. 

Truly a rare opportunity was given to Marcus Aurelius 
of showing what the mind can do in despite of circum 
stances. Most peaceful of warriors, a magnificent monarch 
whose ideal was quiet happiness in home life, bent to 
obscurity yet born to greatness, the loving father of chil 
dren who died young or turned out hateful, his life was 
one paradox. That nothing might lack, it was in camp 
before the face of the enemy that he passed away and 
went to his own place. 

THE following is a list of the chief English translations 
of Marcus Aurelius: (i) By Meric Casaubon, 1634; (2) 
Jeremy Collier, 1701; (3) James Thomson, 1747; (4) 
R. Graves, 1792; (5) H. McCormac, 1844; (6) George 
Long, 1862; (7) G. H. Kendall, 1898; and (8) J. Jackson, 
1906. Kenan s " Marc-Aurele " in his "History of the 
Origins of Christianity," which appeared in 1882 is 
the most vital and original book to be had relating to 
the time of Marcus Aurelius. Pater s "Marius the Epi 
curean" forms another outside commentary, which is of 
service in the imaginative attempt to create again the 




concerning HIMSELF: 

Wherein Antoninus recordeth, What and of whom, whether 

Parents, Friends, or Masters ,- by their good examples, 

or good advice and counsel, he had learned : 

Divided into Numbers or Sections. 

ANTONINUS Book vi. Num. xlviii. Whensoever thou wilt rejoice 
thyself, think and meditate upon those good parts and especial 
gifts, which thou hast observed in any of them that live with thee : 
as industry in one, in another modesty, in another bountifulness, 
in another some other thing. For nothing can so much rejoice 
thee, as the resemblances and parallels of several virtues, eminent 
in the dispositions of them that live with thee, especially when all 
at once, as it were, they represent themselves unto thee. See 
therefore, that thou have them always in a readiness. 


I. Of my grandfather Verus I have learned to be gentle 
and meek, and to refrain from all anger and passion. 
From the fame and memory of him that begot me I 
have learned both shamefastness and manlike behaviour. 
Of my mother I have learned to be religious, and 
bountiful ; and to forbear, not only to do, but to intend 
any evil ; to content myself with a spare diet, and to fly 
all such excess as is incidental to great wealth. Of my 
great-grandfather, both to frequent public schools and 
auditories, and to get me good and able teachers at 
home ; and that I ought not to think much, if upon 
such occasions, I were at excessive charges. 


2 Marcus Aurelius 

II. Of him that brought me up, not to be fondly 
addicted to either of the two great factions of the 
coursers in the circus, called Prasini, and Veneti : nor 
in the amphitheatre partially to favour any of the 
gladiators, or fencers, as either the Parmularii, or the 
Secutores. Moreover, to endure labour ; nor to need 
many things ; when I have anything to do, to do it 
myself rather than by others ; not to meddle with many 
businesses ; and not easily to admit of any slander. 

III. Of Diognetus, not to busy myself about vain 
things, and not easily to believe those things, which are 
commonly spoken, by such as take upon them to work 
wonders, and by sorcerers, or prestidigitators, and im 
postors ; concerning the power of charms, and their 
driving out of demons, or evil spirits ; and the like. 
Not to keep quails for the game ; nor to be mad after 
such things. Not to be offended with other men s 
liberty of speech, and to apply myself unto philosophy. 
Him also I must thank, that ever I heard first Bacchius, 
then Tandasis and Marcianus, and that I did write 
dialogues in my youth ; and that I took liking to the 
philosophers little couch and skins, and such other 
things, which by the Grecian discipline are proper to 
those who profess philosophy. 

IV. To Rusticus I am beholding, that I first entered 
into the conceit that my life wanted some redress and 
cure. And then, that I did not fall into the ambition 
of ordinary sophists, either to write tracts concerning 
the common theorems, or to exhort men unto virtue 
and the study of philosophy by public orations ; as also 
that I never by way of ostentation did affect to show 
myself an active able man, for any kind of bodily 
exercises. And that I gave over the study of rhetoric 
and poetry, and of elegant neat language. That I did 
not use to walk about the house in my long robe, nor 
to do any such things. Moreover I learned of him to 
write letters without any affectation, or curiosity ; such 
as that was, which by him was written to my mother 
from Sinuessa : and to be easy and ready to be recon 
ciled, and well pleased again with them that had offended 

His Meditations 3 

me, as soon as any of them would be content to seek 
unto me again. To read with diligence ; not to rest 
satisfied with a light and superficial knowledge, nor 
quickly to assent to things commonly spoken of: whom 
also I must thank that ever I lighted upon Epictetus 
his Hypoinnemata, or moral commentaries and commone- 
factions : which also he gave me of his own. 

V. From Apollonius, true liberty, and unvariable 
steadfastness, and not to regard anything at all, though 
never so little, but right and reason : and always, whether 
in the sharpest pains, or after the loss of a child, or in 
long diseases, to be still the same man ; who also was 
a present and visible example unto me, that it was 
possible for the same man to be both vehement and 
remiss : a man not subject to be vexed, and offended 
with the incapacity of his scholars and auditors in his 
lectures and expositions ; and a true pattern of a man 
who of all his good gifts and faculties, least esteemed in 
himself, that his excellent skill and ability to teach and 
persuade others the common theorems and maxims of 
the Stoic philosophy. Of him also I learned how to 
receive favours and kindnesses (as commonly they are 
accounted :) from friends, so that I might not become 
obnoxious unto them, for them, nor more yielding upon 
occasion, than in right I ought ; and yet so that I should 
not pass them neither, as an unsensible and unthankful 

VI. Of Sextus, mildness and the pattern of a family 
governed with paternal affection ; and n purpose to live 
according to nature : to be grave without affectation : 
to observe carefully the several dispositions of my friends, 
not to be offended with idiots, nor unseasonably to set 
upon those that are carried with the vulgar opinions, 
with the theorems, and tenets of philosophers : his 
conversation being an example how a man might 
accommodate himself to all men and companies ; so 
that though his company were sweeter and more pleasing 
than any flatterer s cogging and fawning ; yet was it at 
the same time most respected and reverenced : who also 
had a proper happiness and faculty, rationally and 

4 Marcus Aurelius 

methodically to find out, and set in order all necessary 
determinations and instructions for a man s life. A man 
without ever the least appearance of anger, or any other 
passion ; able at the same time most exactly to observe 
the Stoic Apathia, or unpassionateness, and yet to be 
most tender-hearted : ever of good credit ; and yet 
almost without any noise, or rumour : very learned, and 
yet making little show. 

VII. From Alexander the Grammarian, to be un- 
reprovable myself, and not reproachfully to reprehend 
any man for a barbarism, or a solecism, or any false 
pronunciation, but dextrously by way of answer, or 
testimony, or confirmation of the same matter (taking 
no notice of the word) to utter it as it should have been 
spoken ; or by some other such close and indirect 
admonition, handsomely and civilly to tell him of it. 

VIII. Of Fronto, to how much envy and fraud and 
hypocrisy the state of a tyrannous king is subject unto, 
and how they who are commonly called evTra.Tpt.8ai, i.e. 
nobly born, are in some sort incapable, or void of 
natural affection. 

IX. Of Alexander the Platonic, not often nor without 
great necessity to say, or to write to any man in a letter, 
I am not at leisure ; nor in this manner still to put off 
those duties, which we owe to our friends and acquaint 
ances (to every one in his kind) under pretence of urgent 

X. Of Catulus, not to contemn any friend s expostula 
tion, though unjust, but to strive to reduce him to his 
former disposition : freely and heartily to speak well of 
all my masters upon any occasion, as it is reported of 
Domitius, and Athenodotus : and to love my children 
with true affection. 

XI. From my brother Severus, to be kind and loving 
to all them of my house and family ; by whom also I 
came to the knowledge of Thrasea and Helvidius, and 
Cato, and Dio, and Brutus. He it was also that did 
put me in the first conceit and desire of an equal com 
monwealth, administered by justice and equality; and 
of a kingdom wherein should be regarded nothing more 

His Meditations 5 

than the good and welfare of the subjects. Of him also, 
to observe a constant tenor, (not interrupted, with any 
other cares and distractions,) in the study and esteem of 
philosophy : to be bountiful and liberal in the largest 
measure ; always to hope the best ; and to be confident 
that my friends love me. In whom I moreover observed 
open dealing towards those whom he reproved at any 
time, and that his friends might without all doubt or 
much observation know what he would, or would not, 
so open and plain was he. 

XII. From Claudius Maximus, in all things to en 
deavour to have power of myself, and in nothing to be 
carried about ; to be cheerful and courageous in all 
sudden chances and accidents, as in sicknesses : to love 
mildness, and moderation, and gravity : and to do my 
business, whatsoever it be, thoroughly, and without 
querulousness. Whatsoever he said, all men believed 
him that as he spake, so he thought, and whatsoever he 
did, that he did it with a good intent. His manner was, 
never to wonder at anything ; never to be in haste, and 
yet never slow : nor to be perplexed, or dejected, or at 
any time unseemly, or excessively to laugh : nor to be 
angry, or suspicious, but ever ready to do good, and to 
forgive, and to speak truth ; and all this, as one that 
seemed rather of himself to have been straight and right, 
than ever to have been rectified or redressed ; neither 
was there any man that ever thought himself under 
valued by him, or that could find in his heart, to think 
himself a better man than he. He would also be very 
pleasant and gracious. 

XIII. In my father, I observed his meekness ; his 
constancy without wavering in those things, which after 
a due examination and deliberation, he had determined. 
How free from all vanity he carried himself in matter of 
honour and dignity, (as they are esteemed :) his laborious- 
ness and assiduity, his readiness to hear any man, that 
had aught to say tending to any common good : how 
generally and impartially he would give every man his 
due ; his skill and knowledge, when rigour or extremity, 
or when remissness or moderation was in season ; how 

6 Marcus Aurelius 

he did abstain from all unchaste love of youths ; his 
moderate condescending to other men s occasions as an 
ordinary man, neither absolutely requiring of his friends, 
that they should wait upon him at his ordinary meals, 
nor that they should of necessity accompany him in his 
journeys ; and that whensoever any business upon some 
necessary occasions was to be put off and omitted before 
it could be ended, he was ever found when he went 
about it again, the same man that he was before. His 
accurate examination of things in consultations, and 
patient hearing of others. He would not hastily give 
over the search of the matter, as one easy to be satisfied 
with sudden notions and apprehensions. His care to 
preserve his friends ; how neither at any time he would 
carry himself towards them with disdainful neglect, and 
grow weary of them ; nor yet at any time be madly fond 
of them. His contented mind in all things, his cheerful 
countenance, his care to foresee things afar off, and to 
take order for the least, without any noise or clamour. 
Moreover, how all acclamations and flattery wt-re re 
pressed by him : how carefully he observed all things 
necessary to the government, and kept an account of 
the common expenses, and how patiently he did abide 
that he was reprehended by some for this his strict and 
rigid kind of dealing. How he was neither a superstitious 
worshipper of the gods, nor an ambitious pleaser of men, 
or studious of popular applause ; but sober in all things, 
and everywhere observant of that which was fitting ; no 
affecter of novelties : in those things which conduced to 
his ease and convenience, (plenty whereof his fortune 
did afford him,) without pride and bragging, yet with all 
freedom and liberty : so that as he did freely enjoy them 
without any anxiety or affectation when they were present ; 
so when absent, he found no want of them. Moreover, 
that he was never commended by any man, as either a 
learned acute man, or an obsequious officious man, or a 
fine orator ; but as a ripe mature man, a perfect sound 
man ; one that could not endure to be flattered ; able to 
govern both himself and others. Moreover, how much 
he did honour all true philosophers, without upbraiding 

His Meditations 7 

those that were not so ; his sociableness, his gracious 
and delightful conversation, but never unto satiety ; his 
care of his body within bounds and measure, not as one 
that desired to live long, or over-studious of neatness, 
and elegancy ; and yet not as one that did not regard it : 
so that through his own care and providence, he seldom 
needed any inward physic, or outward applications : but 
especially how ingeniously he would yield to any that 
had obtained any peculiar faculty, as either eloquence, 
or the knowledge of the laws, or of ancient customs, or 
the like ; and how he concurred with them, in his best 
care and endeavour that every one of them might in his 
kind, for that wherein he excelled, be regarded and 
esteemed : and although he did all things carefully after 
the ancient customs of his forefathers, yet even uf this 
was he not desirous that men should take notice, that 
he did imitate ancient customs. Again, how he was not 
ea.-ily moved and tossed up and down, but loved to be 
constant, both in the same places and businesses ; and 
how after his great fits of headache he would return 
fresh and vigorous to his wonted affairs. Again, that 
secrets he neither had many, nor often, and such only 
as concerned public matters : his discretion and modera 
tion, in exhibiting of the public sights and shows for the 
pleasure and pastime of the people : in public buildings, 
congiaries, and the like. In all these things, having a 
respect unto men only as men, and to the equity of the 
things themselves, and not unto the glory that might 
follow. Never wont to use the baths at unseasonable 
hours ; no builder ; never curious, or solicitous, either 
about his meat, or about the workmanship, or colour 
of his clothes, or about anything that belonged to 
external beauty. In all his conversation, far from all 
inhumanity, all boldnes.s, and incivility, all greediness 
and impetuosity ; never doing anything with such ear 
nestness, and intention, that a man could say of him, 
that he did sweat about it : but contrariwise, all things 
distinctly, as at leisure; without trouble; orderly, soundly, 
and agreeably. A man might have applied that to him, 
which is recorded of Socrates, that he knew how to want, 

8 Marcus Aurelius 

and to enjoy those things, in the want whereof, most 
men show themselves weak ; and in the fruition, in 
temperate : but to hold out firm and constant, and to 
keep within the compass of true moderation and sobriety 
in either estate, is proper to a man, who hath a perfect 
and invincible soul ; such as he showed himself in the 
sickness of Maximus. 

XIV. From the gods I received that I had good 
grandfathers, and parents, a good sister, good masters, 
good domestics, loving kinsmen, almost all that I have ; 
and that I never through haste and rashness transgressed 
against any of them, notwithstanding that my disposition 
was such, as that such a thing (if occasion had been) 
might very well have been committed by me, but that it 
was the mercy of the gods, to prevent such a concurring 
of matters and occasions, as might make me to incur 
this blame. That I was not long brought up by the 
concubine of my father ; that I preserved the flower of 
my youth. That I took not upon me to be a man 
before my time, but rather put it off longer than I 
needed. That I lived under the government of my 
lord and father, who would take away from me all pride 
and vainglory, and reduce me to that conceit and opinion 
that it was not impossible for a prince to live in the 
court without a troop of guards and followers, extra 
ordinary apparel, such and such torches and statues, and 
other like particulars of state and magnificence ; but that 
a man may reduce and contract himself almost to the 
state of a private man, and yet for all that not to become 
the more base and remiss in those public matters and 
affairs, wherein power and authority is requisite. That 
I have had such a brother, who by his own example 
might stir me up to think of myself; and by his respect 
and love, delight and please me. That I have got 
ingenuous children, and that they were not born dis 
torted, nor with any other natural deformity. That I 
was no great proficient in the study of rhetoric and 
poetry, and of other faculties, which perchance I might 
have dwelt upon, if I had found myself to go on in 
them with success. That I did by times prefer those, 

His Meditations 9 

by whom I was brought up, to such places and digni 
ties, which they seemed unto me most to desire ; and 
that I did not put them off with hope and expectation, 
that (since that they were yet but young) I would do the 
same hereafter. That I ever knew Apollonius and 
Rusticus, and Maximus. That I have had occasion 
often and effectually to consider and meditate with 
myself, concerning that life which is according to nature, 
what the nature and manner of it is : so that as for the 
gods and such suggestions, helps and inspirations, as 
might be expected from them, nothing did hinder, but 
that I might have begun long before to live according to 
nature ; or that even now that I was not yet partaker 
and in present possession of that life, that I myself (in 
that I did not observe those inward motions, and sug 
gestions, yea and almost plain and apparent instructions 
and admonitions of the gods,) was the only cause of it. 
That my body in such a life, hath been able to hold out 
so long. That I never had to do with Benedicta and 
Theodotus, yea and afterwards when I fell into some fits 
of love, I was soon cured. That having been often 
displeased with Rusticus, I never did him anything for 
which afterwards I had occasion to repent. That it 
being so that my mother was to die young, yet she lived 
with me all her latter years. That as often as I had a 
purpose to help and succour any that either were poor, 
or fallen into some present necessity, I never was an 
swered by my officers that there was not ready money 
enough to do it ; and that I myself never had occasion 
to require the like succour from any other. That I have 
such a wife, so obedient, so loving, so ingenuous. That 
I had choice of fit and able men, to whom I might 
commit the bringing up of my children. That by 
dreams I have received help, as for other things, so in 
particular, how I might stay my casting of blood, and 
cure my dizziness, as that also that happened to thee in 
Cajeta, as unto Chryses when he prayed by the sea 
shore. And when I did first apply myself to philosophy, 
that I did not fall into the hands of some sophists, or 
spent my time either in reading the manifold volumes of 

io Marcus Aurelius 

ordinary philosophers, nor in practising myself in the 
solution of arguments and fallacies, nor dwelt upon the 
studies of the meteors, and other natural curiosities. All 
these things without the assistance of the gods, and 
fortune, could not have been. 

XV. In the country of the Quadi at Granua, these. 
Betimes in the morning say to thyself, This day I shall 

have to do with an idle curious man, with an unthankful 
man, a railer, a crafty, false, or an envious man ; an un 
sociable uncharitable man. All these ill qualities have 
happened unto them, through ignorance of that which is 
truly good and truly bad. But I that understand the 
nature of that which is good, that it only is to be desired, 
and of that which is bad, that it only is truly odious and 
shameful : who know moreover, that this transgressor, 
whosoever he be, is my kinsman, not by the same blood 
and seed, but by participation of the same reason, and 
of the same divine particle; How can I either be hurt 
by any of those, since it is not in their power to make 
me incur anything that is truly reproachful ? or angry, 
and ill affected towards him, who by nature is so near 
unto me ? for we are all born to be fellow-workers, as the 
feet, the hands, and the eyelids ; as the rows of the 
upper and under teeth : for such therefore to be in 
opposition, is against nature ; and what is it to chafe at, 
and to be averse from, but to be in opposition ? 

XVI. Whatsoever I am, is either flesh, or life, or that 
which we commonly call the mistress and overruling 
part of man ; reason. Away with thy books, suffer not 
thy mind any more to be distracted, and carried to and 
fro ; for it will not be ; but as even now ready to die, 
think little of thy flesh : blood, bones, and a skin ; a 
pretty piece of knit and twisted work, consisting of 
nerves, veins and arteries ; think no more of it, than 
so. And as for thy life, consider what it is ; a wind ; 
not one constant wind neither, but every moment of an 
hour let out, and sucked in again. The third, is thy 
ruling part : and here consider ; Thou art an old man ; 
surfer not that excellent part to be brought in subjec 
tion, and to become slavish : suffer it not to be drawn 

His Meditations 11 

up and down with unreasonable and unsociable lusts 
and motions, as it were with wires and nerves ; suffer it 
not any more, either to repine at anything now present, 
or to fear and fly anything to come, which the destiny 
hath appointed thee. 

XVII. Whatsoever proceeds from the gods imme-\ 
diately, that any man will grant totally depends from 
their divine providence. As for those things that are 
commonly said to happen by fortune, even those must 
be conceived to have dependence from nature, or from 
that first and general connection, and concatenation of 
all those things, which more apparently by the divine 
providence are administered and brought to pass. All 
things flow from thence : and whatsoever it is that is, is 
both necessary, and conducing to the whole (part of 
which thou art), and whatsoever it is that is requisite 
and necessary for the preservation of the general, must 
of necessity for every particular nature, be good and 
behoveful. And as for the whole, it is preserved, as by 
the perpetual mutation and conversion of the simple x 
elements one into another, so also by the mutation, and 
alteration of things mixed and compounded. Let these 
things suffice thee ; let them be always unto thee, as thy 
general rules and precepts. As for thy thirst after 
books, away with it with all speed, that thou die not 
murmuring and complaining, but truly meek and well 
satisfied, and from thy heart thankful unto the gods. 

12 Marcus Aurelius 


I. Remember how long thou hast already put off these 
things, and how often a certain day and hour as it 
were, having been set unto thee by the gods, thou hast 
neglected it. It is high time for thee to understand the 
true nature both of the world, whereof thou art a part ; 
and of that Lord and Governor of the world, from whom, 
as a channel from the spring, thou thyself didst flow : 
and that there is but a certain limit of time appointed 
unto thee, which if thou shalt not make use of to calm 
and allay the many distempers of thy soul, it will pass 
away and thou with it, and never after return. 

II. Let it be thy earnest and incessant care as a 
Roman and a man to perform whatsoever it is that thou 
art about, with true and unfeigned gravity, natural affec 
tion, freedom and justice : and as for all other cares, 
and imaginations, how thou mayest ease thy mind of 
them. Which thou shalt do ; if thou shalt go about 
every action as thy last action, free from all vanity, all 
passionate and wilful aberration from reason, and from 
all hypocrisy, and self-love, and dislike of those things, 
which by the fates or appointment of God have happened 
unto thee. Thou seest that those things, which for a 
man to hold on in a prosperous course, and to live a 
divine life, are requisite and necessary, are not many, for 
the gods will require no more of any man, that shall but 
keep and observe these things. 

III. Do, soul, do; abuse and contemn thyself; yet 
a while and the time for thee to respect thyself, will be 
at an end. Every man s happiness depends from him 
self, but behold thy life is almost at an end, whiles 
affording thyself no respect, thou dost make thy happi 
ness to consist in the souls, and conceits of other men. 

His Meditations 13 

IV. Why should any of these things that happen 
externally, so much distract thee? Give thyself leisure 
to learn some good thing, and cease roving and wander 
ing to and fro. Thou must also take heed of another 
kind of wandering, for they are idle in their actions, who 
toil and labour in this life, and have no certain scope to 
which to direct all their motions, and desires. 

V. For not observing the state of another man s soul, 
scarce was ever any man known to be unhappy. But 
whosoever they be that intend not, and guide not by 
reason and discretion the motions of their own souls, 
they must of necessity be unhappy. 

VI. These things thou must always have in mind: 
What is the nature of the universe, and what is mine an 
particular : This unto that what relation it hath : what 
kind of part, of what kind of universe it is : And that 
there is nobody that can hinder thee, but that thou 
mayest always both do and speak those things which 
are agreeable to that nature, whereof thou art a part. 

VII. Theophrastus, where he compares sin with sin 
(as after a vulgar sense such things I grant may be 
compared :) says well and like a philosopher, that those 
sins are greater which are committed through lust, than 
those which are committed through anger. For he that 
is angry seems with a kind of grief and close contraction 
of himself, to turn away from reason ; but he that sins 
through lust, being overcome by pleasure, doth in his 
very sin bewray a more impotent, and unmanlike dis 
position. Well then and like a philosopher doth he say, 
that he of the two is the more to be condemned, that 
sins with pleasure, than he that sins with grief. For 
indeed this latter may seem first to have been wronged, 
and so in some manner through grief thereof to have 
been forced to be angry, whereas he who through lust 
doth commit anything, did of himself merely resolve 
upon that action. 

VIII. Whatsoever thou dost affect, whatsoever thou 
dost project, so do, and so project all, as one who, for 
aught thou knowest, may at this very present depart out 
of this life. And as for death, if there be any gods, it 

14 Marcus Aurelius 

/ is no grievous thing to leave the society of men. The 
gods will do thee no hurt, thou mayest be sure. But 
if it be so that there be no gods, or that they take no 
care of the world, why should I desire to live in a world 
void of gods, and of all divine providence? But gods 
there be certainly, and they take care for the world ; 
and as for those things which be truly evil, as vice and 
wickedness, such things they have put in a man s own 
power, that he might avoid them if he would : and had 
there been anything besides that had been truly bad and 
evil, they would have had a care of that also, that a man 
might have avoided it. But why should that be thought 
to hurt and prejudice a man s life in this world, which 
cannot any ways make man himself the better, or the 
worse in his own person ? Neither must we think that 
the nature of the universe did either through ignorance 
pass these things, or if not as ignorant of them, yet as 
unable either to prevent, or better to order and dispose 
them. It cannot be that she through want either of 
power or skill, should have committed such a thing, so 
as to suffer all things both good and bad, equally and 
promiscuously, to happen unto all both good and bad. 
As for life therefore, and death, honour and dishonour, 
labour and pleasure, riches and poverty, all these things 
happen unto men indeed, both good and bad, equally ; 
but as things which of themselves are neither good nor 
bad ; because of themselves, neither shameful nor praise- 

- worthy. 

IX. Consider how quickly all things are dissolved 
and resolved : the bodies and substances themselves, 
into the matter and substance of the world : and their 
memories into the general age and time of the world. 
Consider the nature of all worldly sensible things ; of 
those especially, which either ensnare by pleasure, or 
for their irksomeness are dreadful, or for their outward 
lustre and show are in great esteem and request, how vile 
and contemptible, how base and corruptible, how desti 
tute of all true life and being they are. 

X. It is the part of a man endowed with a good 
understanding faculty, to consider what they themselves 

His Meditations 15 

are in very deed, from whose bare conceits and voices, 
honour and credit do proceed : as also what it is to die, 
and how if a man shall consider this by itself alone, to 
die, and separate from it in his mind all those things 
which with it usually represent themselves unto us, he 
can conceive of it no otherwise, than as of a work of 
nature, and he that fears any work of nature, is a very 
child. Now death, it is not only a work of nature, but 
also conducing to nature. 

XI. Consider with thyself how man, and by what 
part of his, is joined unto God, and how that part of 
man is affected, when it is said to be diffused. There 
is nothing more wretched than that soul, which in a 
kind of circuit compasseth all things, searching (as he 
saith) even the very depths of the earth ; and by all 
signs and conjectures prying into the very thoughts of 
other men s souls ; and yet of this, is not sensible, that 
it is sufficient for a man to apply himself wholly, and to 
confine all his thoughts and cares to the tendance of 
that spirit which is within him, and truly and really to 
serve him. His service doth consist in this, that a man 
keep himself pure from all violent passion and evil affec 
tion, from all rashness and vanity, and from all manner 
of discontent, either in regard of the gods or men. For 
indeed whatsoever proceeds from the gods, deserves 
respect for their worth and excellency ; and whatsoever 
proceeds from men, as they are our kinsmen, should by 
us be entertained, with love, always ; sometimes, as pro 
ceeding from their ignorance, of that which is truly good 
and bad, (a blindness no less, than that by which we are 
not able to discern between white and black :) with a 
kind of pity and compassion also. 

XII. If thou shouldst live three thousand, or as many 
as ten thousands of years, yet remember this, that man 
can part with no life properly, save with that little part 
of life, which he now lives : and that which he lives, is 
no other, than that which at every instant he parts with. 
That then which is longest of duration, and that which 
is shortest, come both to one effect. For although in 
regard of that which is already past there may be some 

1 6 Marcus Aurelius 

inequality, yet that time which is now present and in 
being, is equal unto all men. And that being it which 
we part with whensoever we die, it doth manifestly 
appear, that it can be but a moment of time, that we 
then part with. For as for that which is either past or 
to come, a man cannot be said properly to part with it. 
For how should a man part with that which he hath not? 
These two things therefore thou must remember. First, 
that all things in the world from all eternity, by a per 
petual revolution of the same times and things ever con 
tinued and renewed, are of one kind and nature ; so that 
whether for a hundred or two hundred years only, or for 
an infinite space of time, a man see those things which 
are still the same, it can be no matter of great moment. 
And secondly, that that life which any the longest liver, 
or the shortest liver pans with, is for length and duration 
the very same, for that only which is present, is that, 
which either of them can lose, as being that only which 
they have ; for that which he hath not, no man can truly 
be said to lose. 

XIII. Remember that all is but opinion and conceit, 
for those things are plain and apparent, which were 
spoken unto Monimus the Cynic ; and as plain and 
apparent is the use that may be made of those things, if 
that which is true and serious in them, be received as 
well as that which is sweet and pleasing. 

XIV. A man s soul doth wrong and disrespect itself 
first and especially, when as much as in itself lies it 
becomes an aposteme, and as it were an excrescency of 
the world, for to be grieved and displeased with anything 
that happens in the world, is direct apostacy from the 
nature of the universe ; part of which, all particular 
natures of the world, are. Secondly, when she either is 
averse from any man, or led by contrary desires or affec 
tions, tending to his hurt and prejudice ; such as are the 
souls of them that are angry. Thirdly, when she is over 
come by any pleasure or pain. Fourthly, when she doth 
dissemble, and covertly and falsely either doth or saith 
anything. Fifthly, when she doth either affect or endea 
vour anything to no certain end, but rashly and without 

His Meditations 17 

due ratiocination and consideration, how consequent or 
inconsequent it is to the common end. For even the 
least things ought not to be done, without relation unto 
the end ; and the end of the reasonable creatures is, to 
follow and obey him, who is the reason as it were, and 
the law of this great city, and ancient commonwealth. f 

XV. The time of a man s life is as a point ; the sub 
stance of it ever flowing, the sense obscure ; and the 
whole composition of the body tending to corruption. 
His soul is restless, fortune uncertain, and fame doubtful ; 
to be brief, as a stream so are all things belonging to the 
body ; as a dream, or as a smoke, so are all that belong 
unto the soul. Our life is a warfare, and a mere pilgrim 
age. Fame after life is no better than oblivion. What 
is it then that will adhere and follow? Only one thing, -. 
philosophy. And philosophy doth consist in this, for a 
man to preserve that spirit which is within him, from all 
manner of contumelies and injuries, and above all pains 
or pleasures ; never to do anything either rashly, or 
feignedly, or hypocritically : wholly to depend from him 
self, and his own proper actions : all things that happen 
unto him to embrace contentedly, as coming from Him 
from whom he himself also came ; and above all things, 
with all meekness and a calm cheerfulness, to expect 
death, as being nothing else but the resolution of those 
elements, of which every creature is composed. And if 
the elements themselves suffer nothing by this their per 
petual conversion of one into another, that dissolution, 
and alteration, which is so common unto all, why should 
it be feared by any ? Is not this according to nature ? 
But nothing that is according to nature can be evil. 

Whilst I was at dirnuntum. 


I. A man must not only consider how daily his life 
wasteth and decreaseth, but this also, that if he live long, 
he cannot be certain, whether his understanding shall con 
tinue so able and sufficient, for either discreet consider 
ation, in matter of businesses ; or for contemplation : it 
being the thing, whereon true knowledge of things both 
divine and human, doth depend. For if once he shall 
begin to dote, his respiration, nutrition, his imaginative, 
and appetitive, and other natural faculties, may still con 
tinue the same : he shall find no want of them. But 
how to make that right use of himself that he should, 
how to observe exactly in all things that which is right 
and just, how to redress and rectify all wrong, or sudden 
apprehensions and imaginations, and even of this parti 
cular, whether he should live any longer or no, to 
consider duly ; for all such things, wherein the best 
strength and vigour of the mind is most requisite ; his 
power and ability will be past and gone. Thou must 
hasten therefore ; not only because thou art every day 
nearer unto death than other, but also because that 
intellective faculty in thee, whereby thou art enabled to 
know the true nature of things, and to order all thy 
actions by that knowledge, doth daily waste and decay : 
or, may fail thee before thou die. 

II. This also thou must observe, that whatsoever it is 
that naturally doth happen to things natural, hath some 
what in itself that is pleasing and delightful : as a great 
loaf when it is baked, some parts of it cleave as it were, 
and part asunder, and make the crust of it rugged and 
unequal, and yet those parts of it, though in some sort it 
be against the art and intention of baking itself, that they 
are thus cleft and parted, which should have been and 

His Meditations 19 

were first made all even and uniform, they become it 
well nevertheless, and have a certain peculiar property, 
to stir the appetite. So figs are accounted fairest and 
ripest then, when they begin to shrink, and wither as it 
were. So ripe olives, when they are next to putrefaction, 
then are they in their proper beauty. The hanging down 
of grapes, the brow of a lion, the froth of a foaming wild 
boar, and many other like things, though by themselves 
considered, they are far from any beauty, yet because 
they happen naturally, they both are comely, and de 
lightful ; so that if a man shall with a profound mind and 
apprehension, consider all things in the world, even 
among all those things which are but mere accessories 
and natural appendices as it were, there will scarce 
appear anything unto him, wherein he will not find 
matter of pleasure and delight. So will he behold with 
as much pleasure the true rictus of wild beasts, as those 
which by skilful painters and other artificers are imitated. 
So will he be able to perceive the proper ripeness and 
beauty of old age, whether in man or woman : and what 
soever else it is that is beautiful and alluring in what 
soever is, with chaste and continent eyes he will soon 
find out and discern. Those and many other things will 
he discern, not credible unto every one, but unto them 
only who are truly and familiarly acquainted, both with 
nature itself, and all natural things. 

ill. Hippocrates having cured many sicknesses, fell 
sick himself and died. The Chaldeans and Astrologians 
having foretold the deaths of divers, were afterwards 
themselves surprised by the fates. Alexander and 
Pompeius, and Caius Caesar, having destroyed so many 
towns, and cut off in the field so many thousands both 
of horse and foot, yet they themselves at last were fain to 
part with their own lives. Heraclitus having written so 
many natural tracts concerning the last and general con 
flagration of the world, died afterwards all filled with 
water within, and all bedaubed with dirt and dung with 
out. Lice killed Democrit ; and Socrates, another 
sort of vermin, wicked ungodly men. How then stands 
the case ? TLou hast taken ship, thou hast sailed, tnou 

2O Marcus Aurelius 

art come to land, go out, if to another life, there also 
shalt thou find gods, who are everywhere. If all life and 
sense shall cease, then shalt thou cease also to be subject 
to either pains or pleasures ; and to serve and tend this 
vile cottage ; so much the viler, by how much that 
which ministers unto it doth excel ; the one being a 
rational substance, and a spirit, the other nothing but 
earth and blood. 

IV. Spend not the remnant of thy days in thoughts 
and fancies concerning other men, when it is not in 
relation to some common good, when by it thou art 
hindered from some other better work. That is, spend 
not thy time in thinking, what such a man doth, and to 
what end : what he saith, and what he thinks, and what 
he is about, and such other things or curiosities, which 
make a man to rove and wander from the care and 
observation of that part of himself, which is rational, and 
overruling. See therefore in the whole series and con 
nection of thy thoughts, that thou be careful to prevent 
whatsoever is idle and impertinent : but especially, what 
soever is curious and malicious : and thou must use 
thyself to think only of such things, of which if a man 
upon a sudden should ask thee, what it is that thou 
art now thinking, thou mayest answer This, and That, 
freely and boldly, that so by thy thoughts it may presently 
appear that in all thee is sincere, and peaceable ; as be- 
cometh one that is made for society, and regards not 
pleasures, nor gives way to any voluptuous imaginations 
at all : free from all contentiousness, envy, and suspicion, 
and from whatsoever else thou wouldest blush to confess 
thy thoughts were set upon. He that is such, is he 
surely that doth not put off to lay hold on that which 
is best indeed, a very priest and minister of the gods, 
well acquainted and in good correspondence with him 
especially that is seated and placed within himself, as 
in a temple and sacrary : to whom also he keeps and 
preserves himself unspotted by pleasure, undaunted by 
pain ; free from any manner of wrong, or contumely, by 
himself offered unto himself: not capable of any evil 
from others : a wrestler of the best sort, and for the 

His Meditations 21 

highest prize, that he may not be cast down by any 
passion, or affection of his own ; deeply dyed and drenched 
in righteousness, embracing and accepting with his whole 
heart whatsoever either happeneth or is allotted unto 
him. One who not often, nor without some great neces 
sity tending to some public good, mindeth what any 
other, either speaks, or doth, or purposeth : for those 
things only that are in his own power, or that are truly 
his own, are the objects of his employments, and his 
thoughts are ever taken up with those things, which of 
the whole universe are by the fates or Providence desti- 
nated and appropriated unto himself. Those things that 
are his own, and in his own power, he himself takes 
order, for that they be good : and as for those that 
happen unto him, he believes them to be so. For that 
lot and portion which is assigned to every one. as it is 
unavoidable and necessary, so is it always profitable. He 
remembers besides that whatsoever partakes of reason, is 
akin unto him, and that to care for all men generally, 
is agreeing to the nature of a man : but as for honour 
and praise, that they ought not generally to be admitted 
and accepted of from all, but from such only, who live 
according to nature. As for thvm that do not, what 
manner of men they be at home, or abroad; day or 
night, how conditioned themselves with what manner of 
conditions, or with men of what conditions they moil and 
pass away the time together, he knoweth, and remem 
bers right well, he therefore regards not such praise and 
approbation, as proceeding from them, who cannot like 
and approve themselves. 

V. Do nothing against thy will, nor contrary to the 
community, nor without due examination, nor with re- 
luctancy. Affect not to set out thy thoughts with curious 
neat language. Be neither a great talker, nor a great 
undertaker. Moreover, let thy God that is in thee to 
rule over thee, find by thee, that he hath to do with a 
man ; an aged man ; a sociable man ; a Roman ; a prince ; 
one that hath ordered his life, as one that expecteth, as 
it were, nothing but the sound of the trumpet, sounding 
a retreat to depart out of this life with all expedition. 

22 Marcus Aurelius 

One who for his word or actions neither needs an oath, 
nor any man to be a witness. 

VI. To be cheerful, and to stand in no need, either 
of other men s help or attendance, or of that rest and 
tranquillity, which thou must be beholding to others for. 
Rather like one that is straight of himself, or hath ever 
been straight, than one that hath been rectified. 

VII. If thou shalt find anything in this mortal life 
better than righteousness, tnan truth, temperance, forti 
tude, and in general better than a mind contented both 
with those things which according to right and reason 
she doth, and in those, which without her will and 
knowledge happen unto thee by the providence ; if I 
say, thou canst rind out anything better than this, apply 
thyself unto it with thy whole heart, and that which is 
best wheresoever thou dost find it, enjoy freely. But if 
nothing thou shalt find worthy to be preferred to that 
spirit which is within thee ; if nothing better than to 
subject unto thee thine own lusts and desires, and not 
to give way to any fancies or imaginations before thou 
hast duly considered of them, nothing better than to 
withdraw thyself (to use Socrates his words) from all 
sensuality, and submit thyself unto the gods, and to 
have care of all men in general : if thou shalt find that 
all other things in comparison of this, are but vile, and 
of little moment ; then give not way to any other thing, 
which being once though but affected and inclined unto, 
it will no more be in thy power without all distraction as 
thou oughtest to prefer and to pursue after that good, 
which is thine own and thy proper good. For it ii not 
lawful, that anything that is of another and inferior kind 
and nature, be it what it will, as either popular applause, 
or honour, or riches, or pleasures ; should be suffered 
to confront and contest as it were, with that which is 
rational, and operatively good. For all these things, if 
once though but for a while, they begin to please, they 
presently prevail, and pervert a man s mind, or turn a 
man from the right way. Do thou therefore I say abso 
lutely and freely make choice of that which is best, and 
stick unto it. Now, that they say is best, which is most 

His Meditations 23 

profitable. If they mean profitable to man as he is a 
rational man, stand thou to it, and maintain it; but if 
they mean profitable, as he is a creature, only reject it ; 
and from this thy tenet and conclusion keep off care 
fully all plausible shows and colours of external appear 
ance, that thou mayest be able to discern things rightly. 

VIII. Never esteem of anything as profitable, which 
shall ever constrain thee either to break thy faith, or to 
lose thy modesty ; to hate any man, to suspect, to curse, 
to dissemble, to lust after anything, that requireth the 
secret of walls or veils. But he that preferreth before all 
things his rational part and spirit, and the sacred mys 
teries of virtue which issueth from it, he shall never 
lament and exclaim, never sigh ; he shall never want either 
solitude or company : and which is chiefest of all, he 
shall live without either desire or fear. And as for life, 
whether for a long or short time he shall enjoy his soul 
thus compassed about with a body, he is altogether 
indifferent. For if even now he were to depart, he is as 
ready for it, as for any other action, which may be per 
formed with modesty and decency. For all his life long, 
this is his only care, that his mind may always be occu 
pied in such intentions and objects, as are proper to a 
rational sociable creature. 

IX. In the mind that is once truly disciplined and 
purged, thou canst not find anything, either foul or 
impure, or as it were festered : nothing that is either 
servile, or affected : no partial tie ; no malicious averse- 
ness ; nothing obnoxious ; nothing concealed. The life 
of such an one, death can never surprise as imperfect ; as 
of an actor, that should die before he had ended, or the 
play itself were at an end. a man might speak. 

X. Use thine opinative faculty with all honour and 
respect, for in her indeed is all: that thy opinion do 
not beget in thy understanding anything contrary to 
either nature, or the proper constitution of a rational 
creature. The end and object of a rational constitution 
is, to do nothing rashly, to be kindly affected towards 
men, and in all things willingly to submit unto the gods. 
Casting therefore all other things aside, keep thyself to 

24 Marcus Aurelius 

these few, and remember withal that no man properly 
can be said to live more than that which is now present, 
which is but a moment of time. Whatsoever is besides 
either is already past, or uncertain. The time therefore 
that any man doth live, is but a little, and the place 
where he liveth, is but a very little corner of the earth, 
and the greatest fame that can remain of a man after his 
death, even that is but little, and that too, such as it is 
whilst it is, is by the succession of silly mortal men pre 
served, who likewise shall shortly die, and even whiles 
they live know not what in very deed they themselves 
are : and much less can know one, who long before is 
dead and gone. 

XI. To these ever-present helps and mementoes, let 
one more be added, ever to make a particular description 
and delineation as it were of every object that presents 
itself to thy mind, that thou mayest wholly and throughly 
contemplate it, in its own proper nature, bare and naked ; 
wholly, and severally ; divided into its several parts and 
quarters : and then by thyself in thy mind, to call both 
it, and those things of which it doth consist, and in 
which it shall be resolved, by their own proper true 
names, and appellations. For there is nothing so effec 
tual to beget true magnanimity, as to be able truly and 
methodically to examine and consider all things that 
happen in this life, and so to penetrate into their natures, 
that at the same time, this also may concur in our 
apprehensions : what is the true use of it ? and what is 
the true nature of this universe, to which it is useful ? 
how much in regard of the universe may it be esteemed ? 
how much in regard of man, a citizen of the supreme 
city, of which all other cities in the world are as it were 
but houses and families ? 

XII. What is this, that now my fancy is set upon ? of 
what things doth it consist ? how long can it last ? which 
of all the virtues is the proper virtue for this present use ? 
as whether meekness, fortitude, truth, faith, sincerity, 
contentation, or any of the rest ? Of everything there 
fore thou must use thyself to say, This immediately comes 
from God, this by that fatal connection, and concaten- 

His Meditations 25 

ation of things, or (which almost comes to one) by some 
coincidental casualty. And as for this, it proceeds from 
my neighbour, my kinsman, my fellow : through his 
ignorance indeed, because he knows not what is truly 
natural unto him : but I know it, and therefore carry 
myself towards him according to the natural law of 
fellowship ; that is kindly, and justly. As for those 
things that of themselves are altogether indifferent, as 
in my best judgment I conceive everything to deserve 
more or less, so I carry myself towards it. 

XIII. If thou shall intend that which is present, 
following the rule of right and reason carefully, solidly, 
meekly, and shall not intermix any other businesses, but 
shall study this only to preserve ihy spirit im polluted, 
and pure, and shall cleave unto him withoul either hope 
or fear of anylhing, in all ihings lhal ihou shall eilher do 
or speak, conlenting thyself with heroical truih, Ihou 
shall live happily ; and from ihis, Ihere is no man lhal 
can hinder Ihee. 

XIV. As physicians and chirurgeons have always iheir 
inslrumenls ready al hand for all sudden cures ; so have 
Ihou always ihy dogmala in a readiness for ihe knowledge 
of ihings, both divine and human : and whatsoever thou 
dost, even in the smallest things that thou dosl, ihou 
musl ever remember lhal mulual relalion, and conneclion 
lhal is belween Ihese Iwo Ihings divine, and Ihings 
human. For wilhoul relalion unlo God. ihou shall 
never speed in any worldly actions ; nor on the other 
side in any divine, withoul some respecl had lo ihings 

XV. Be not deceived ; for ihou shall never live lo read 
ihy moral commenlaries, nor the acts of the famous 
Romans and Grecians ; nor those excerpta from several 
books all which Ihou hadsl provided and laid up for 
ihyself againsl thine old age. Hasten therefore lo an 
end, and giving over all vain hopes, help ihyself in time 
if thou carest for ihyself, as ihou oughlesl lo do. 

XVI. To sleal, to sow, lo buy, lo be al resl, to see 
what is lo be done (which is noi seen by ihe eyes, but 
by another kind of sight :) what these words mean, and 

25 Marcus Aurelius 

how many ways to be understood, they do not under 
stand. The body, the soul, the understanding. As the 
senses naturally belong to the body, and the desires and 
affections to the soul, so do the dogmata to the under 

XVII. To be capable of fancies and imaginations, is 
common to man and beast. To be violently drawn and 
moved by the lusts and desires of the soul, is proper to 
wild beasts and monsters, such as Phalaris and Nero 
were. To follow reason for ordinary duties and actions 
is common to them also, who believe not that there be 
any gods, and for their advantage would make no con 
science to betray their own country ; and who when 
once the doors be shut upon them, dare do anything. 
If therefore all things else be common to these likewise, 
it follows, that for a man to like and embrace all things 
that happen and are destinated unto him, and not to 
trouble and molest that spirit which is seated in the 
temple of his own breast, with a multitude of vain fancies 
and imaginations, but to keep him propitious and to 
obey him as a god, never either speaking anything 
contrary to truth, or doing anything contrary to justice, is 
the only true property of a good man. And such a one, 
though no man should believe that he liveth as he doth, 
either sincerely and conscionably, or cheerful and con 
tentedly ; yet is he neither with any man at all angry 
for it, nor diverted by it from the way that leadeth to 
the end of his We, through which a man must pass 
pure, ever ready to depart, and willing of himself without 
any compulsion to fit and accommodate himself to his 
proper lot and portion. 

His Meditations 27 


I. That inward mistress part of man if it be in its own 
true natural temper, is towards all worldly chances and 
events ever so disposed and affected, that it will easily 
turn and apply itself to that which may be, and is within 
its own power to compass, when that cannot be which 
at first it intended. For it never doth absolutely addict 
and apply itself to any one object, but whatsoever it is 
that it doth now intend and prosecute, it doth prosecute 
it with exception and reservation ; so that whatsoever it 
is that falls out contrary to its first intentions, even that 
afterwards it makes its proper object. Even as the fire 
when it prevails upon those things that are in his way ; 
by which things indeed a little fire would have been 
quenched, but a great fire doth soon turn to its own 
nature, and so consume whatsoever comes in his way : 
yea by those very things it is made greater and greater. 

II. Let nothing be done rashly, and at random, but all 
things according to the most exact and perfect rules of art. 

III. They seek for themselves private retiring places, 
as country villages, the sea-shore, mountains ; yea thou 
thyself art wont to long much after such places. But 
all this thou must know proceeds from simplicity in the 
highest degree. At what time soever thou wilt, it is in 
thy power to retire into thyself, and to be at rest, and 
free from all businesses. A man cannot any whither 
retire better than to his own soul ; he especially who is 
beforehand provided of such things within, which when 
soever he doth withdraw himself to look in, may presently 
afford unto him perfect ease and tranquillity. By tran 
quillity I understand a decent orderly disposition and 
carriage, free from all confusion and tumultuousness. 
Afford then thyself this retiring continually, and thereby 

28 Marcus Aurelius 

refresh and renew thyself. Let these precepts be brief 
and fundamental, which as soon as thou dost call them 
to mind, may suffice thee to purge thy soul throughly, 
and to send thee away well pleased with those things 
whatsoever they be, which now again after this short 
withdrawing of thy soul into herself thou dost return 
unto. For what is it that thou art offended at ? Can 
it be at the wickedness of men, when thou dost call to 
mind this conclusion, that all reasonable creatures are 
made one for another? and that it is part of justice to 
bear with them ? and that it is against their wills that 
they offend ? and how many already, who once likewise 
prosecuted their enmities, suspected, hated, and fiercely 
contended, are now long ago stretched out, and reduced 
unto ashes? It is time for thee to make an end. .As 
for those things which among the common chances of 
the world happen unto thee as thy particular lot and 
portion, canst thou be displeased with any of them, 
when thou dost call that our ordinary dilemma to mind, 
either a providence, or Democritus his atoms ; and with 
it, whatsoever we brought to prove that the whole world 
is as it were one city ? And as for thy body, what canst 
thou fear, if thou dost consider that thy mind and 
understanding, when once it hath recollected itself, and 
knows its own power, hath in this life and breath 
(whether it run smoothly and gently, or whether harshly 
and rudely), no interest at all, but is altogether in 
different : and whatsoever else thou hast heard and 
assenied unto concerning either pain or pleasure ? But 
the care of thine honour and reputation will perchance 
distract thee? How can that be, if thou dost look 
back, and consider both how quickly all things that are, 
are forgotten, and what an immense chaos of eternity 
was before, and will follow after all things : and the 
vanity of praise, and the inconstancy and variableness 
of human judgments and opinions, and the narrowness 
of the place, wherein it is limited and circumscribed ? 
For the whole earth is but as one point ; and of it, this 
inhabited part of it, is but a very little part ; and of this 
part, how many in number, and what manner of men 

His Meditations 29 

are they, that will commend thee ? What remains then, 
but that thou often put in practice this kind of retiring 
of thyself, to this little part of thyself; and above all 
things, keep thyself from distraction, and intend not 
anything vehemently, but be free and consider all things, ; 
as a man whose proper object is virtue, as a man whose 
true nature is to be kind and sociable, as a citizen, as 
a mortal creature. Among other things, which to con 
sider, and look into thou must use to withdraw thyself, 
let those two be among the most obvious and at hand". 
One, that the things or objects themselves reach not 
unto the soul, but stand without still and quiet, and that 
it is from the opinion only which is within, that all the 
tumult and all the trouble doth proceed. The next, that 
all these things, which now thou seest, shall within a very 
little while be changed, and be no more : and ever call 
to mind, how many changes and alterations in the world 
thou thyself hast already been an eyewitness of in thy 
time. This world is mere change, and this life, opinion. 

IV. If to understand and to be reasonable be commom x 
unto all men. then is that reason, for which we are 
termed reasonable, common unto all. If reason is 
general, then is that reason also, which prescribeth what 
is to be done and what not, common unto all. If that, 
then law. If law, then are we fellow-citizens. If so, 
then are we partners in some one commonweal. If so, 
then the world is as it were a city. For which other 
commonweal is it, that all men can be said to be mem 
bers of? From this common city it is, that under 
standing, reason, and law is derived unto us, for from 
whence else? For as that which in me is earthly I 
have from some common earth ; and that which is 
moist from some other element is imparted ; as my 
breath and life hath its proper fountain ; and that like 
wise which is dry and fiery in me : (for there is nothing 
which doth not proceed from something ; as also there 
is nothing that can be reduced unto mere nothing :) 
so also is there some common beginning from whence , : 
my understanding hath proceeded. 
- V. As generation is, so also death, a secret of nature s 

30 Marcus Aurelius 

wisdom : a mixture of elements, resolved into the same 
elements again, a thing surely which no man ought to be 
ashamed of: in a series of other fatal events and conse 
quences, which a rational creature is subject unto, not 
improper or incongruous, nor contrary to the natural 
and proper constitution of man himself. 

VI. Such and such things, from such and such causes, 
must of necessity proceed. He that would not have 
such things to happen, is as he that would have the 
fig-tree grow without any sap or moisture. In sum, 
remember this, that within a very little while, both thou 
and he shall both be dead, and after a little while more, 
not so much as your names and memories shall be 

VII. Let opinion be taken away, and no man will 
think himself wronged. If no man shall think himself 
wronged, then is there no more any such thing as 
wrong. That which makes not man himself the worse, 
cannot make his life the worse, neither can it hurt him 
either inwardly or outwardly. It was expedient in 
nature that it should be so, and therefore neces>ary. 

VIII. Whatsoever doth happen in the world, doth 
happen justly, and so if thou dost well take heed, thou 

shall find it. I say not only in right order by a series 
of inevitable consequences, but according to justice and 
as it were by way of equal distribution, according to the 
true worth of everything. Continue then to take notice 
of it, as thou hast begun, and whatsoever thou dost, do 
it not without this proviso, that it be a thing of that nature 
that a good man (as the word good is properly taken) 
may do it. This observe carefully in every action. 

IX. Conceit no such things, as he that wrongeth thee 
conceiveth, or would have ihee to conceive, but look 
into the matter itself, and see what it is in very truth. 
^"X. These two rules, thou must have always in a 
readiness. First, do nothing at all, but what reason 
proceeding from that regal and supreme part, shall for 
the good and benefit of men, suggest unto thee. And 
secondly, if any man that is present shall be able to 
rectify thee or to turn thee from some erroneous per- 

His Meditations 31 

suasion, that thou be always ready to change thy mind, 
and this change to proceed, not from any respect of any 
pleasure or credit thereon depending, but always from 
some probable apparent ground of justice, or of some 
public good thereby to be furthered ; or from some other . 
such inducement. 

XI. Hast thou reason? I have. Why then makest 
thou not use of it ? For if thy reason do her part, what 
more canst thou require ? 

XII. As a part hitherto thou hast had a particular 
subsistence : and now shalt thou vanish away into the 
common substance of Him, who first begot thee, or 
rather thou shalt be resumed again into that original 
rational substance, out of which all others have issued, 
and are propagated. Many small pieces of frankincense 
are set upon the same altar, one drops first and is 
consumed, another after ; and it comes all to one. 

XIII. Within ten days, if so happen, thou shalt be 
esteemed a god of them, who now if thou shalt return to 
the dogmata and to the honouring of reason, will esteem 
of thee no better than of a mere brute, and of an ape. 

XIV. Not as though thou hadst thousands of years to 
live. Death hangs over thee : whilst yet thou livest, 
whilst thou mayest, be good. 

XV. Now much time and leisure doth he gain, who 
is not curious to know what his neighbour hath said, or 
hath done, or hath attempted, but only what he doth 
himself, that it may be just and holy ? or to express it in 
Agathos words, Not to look about upon the evil con 
ditions of others, but to run on straight in the line, 
without any loose and extravagant agitation. 

XVI. He who is greedy of credit and reputation after 
his death, doth not consider, that they themselves by 
whom he is remembered, shall soon after every one of 
them be dead ; and they likewise that succeed those ; 
until at last all memory, which hitherto by the succession 
of men admiring and soon after dying hath had its 
course, be quite extinct. But suppose that both they 
that shall remember thee, and thy memory with them 
should be immortal, what is that to thee ? I will not 

32 Marcus Aurelius 

say to thee after thou art dead ; but even to thee living, 
what is thy praise ? But only for a secret and politic 
consideration, which we call otKovo/itav, or dispensation. 
For as for that, that it is the gift of nature, whatsoever 
is commended in thee, what might be objected from 
thence, let that now that we are upon another considera 
tion be omitted as unseasonable. That which is fair 
and goodly, whatsoever it be, and in what respect soever 
it be, that it is fair and goodly, it is so of itself, and 
terminates in itself, not admitting praise as a part or 
member : that therefore which is praised, is not thereby 
made either better or worse. This I understand even 
of those things, that are commonly called fair and good, 
as those which are commended either for the matter 
itself, or for curious workmanship. As for that which is 
truly good, what can it stand in need of more than 
either justice or truth ; or more than either kindness 
and modesty ? Which of all those, either becomes good 
or fair, because commended ; or dispraised suffers any 
damage ? Doth the emerald become worse in itself, or 
more vile if it be not commended? Doth gold, or ivory, 
or purple ? Is there anything that doth though never 
so common, as a knife, a flower,. or a tree? 

XVII. If so be that the souls remain after death (say 
they that will not believe it) ; how is the air from all 
eternity able to contain them ? How is the earth (say I) 
ever from that time able to contain the bodies of them 
that are buried ? For as here the change and resolution 
of dead bodies into another kind of subsistence (whatso 
ever it be ;) makes place for other dead bodies : so the 
souls after death transferred into the air, after they have 
conversed there a while, are either by way of transmuta 
tion, or transfusion, or conflagration, received again into 
that original rational substance, from which all others 
do proceed : and so give way to those souls, who before 
coupled and associated unto bodies, now begin to sub 
sist single. This, upon a supposition that the souls after 
death do for a while subsist single, may be answered. 
And here, (besides the number of bodies, so buried and 
contained by the earth), we may further consider the 

His Meditations 33 

number of several beasts, eaten by us men, and by other 
creatures. For notwithstanding that such a multitude 
of them is daily consumed, and as it were buried in the 
bodies of the eaters, yet is the same place and body able 
to contain them, by reason of their conversion, partly 
into blood, partly into air and fire. What in these 
things is the speculation of truth ? to divide things into 
that which is passive and material ; and that which is 
active and formal. 

XVIII. Not to wander out of the way, but upon every 
motion and desire, to perform that which is just : and 
ever to be careful to attain to the true natural apprehen 
sion of every fancy, that presents itself. 

XIX. Whatsoever is expedient unto thee, O World, is 
expedient unto me ; nothing can either be unseasonable 
unto me, or out of date, which unto thee is seasonable. 
Whatsoever thy seasons bear, shall ever by me be 
esteemed as happy fruit, and increase. O Nature ! from 
thee are all things, in thee all things subsist, and to thee 
all tend. Could he say of Athens, Thou lovely city of 
Cecrops ; and shalt not thou say of the world, Thou 
lovely city of God ? 

XX. They will say commonly, Meddle not with many 
things, if thou wilt live cheerfully. Certainly there is 
nothing better, than for a man to confine himself to 
necessary actions ; to such and so many only, as reason 
in a creature that knows itself born for society, will 
command and enjoin. This will not only procure that 
cheerfulness, which from the goodness, but that also, 
which from the paucity of actions doth usually proceed. 
For since it is so, that most of those things, which we 
either speak or do, are unnecessary ; if a man shall cut 
them oft, it must needs follow that he shall thereby gain 
much leisure, and save much trouble, and therefore at 
every action a man must privately by way of admonition 
suggest unto himself, What ? may not this that now I 
go about, be of the number of unnecessary actions ? 
Neither must he use himself to cut off actions only, but 
thoughts and imaginations also, that are unnecessary ; 


34 Marcus Aurelius 

for so will unnecessary consequent actions the better be 
prevented and cut off. 

XXI. Try also how a good man s life ; (of one, who 
is well pleased with those things whatsoever, which 
among the common changes and chances of this world 
fall to his own lot and share ; and can live well con 
tented and fully satisfied in the justice of his own proper 
present action, and in the goodness of his disposition 
for the future :) will agree with thee. Thou hast had 
experience of that other kind of life : make now trial of 
this also. Trouble not thyself any more henceforth, 
reduce thyself unto perfect simplicity. Doth any man 
offend ? It is against himself that he doth offend : why 
should it trouble thee ? Hath anything happened unto 
thee ? It is well, whatsoever it be, it is that which of 
all the common chances of the world from the very 
beginning in the series of all other things that have, or 
shall happen, was destinated and appointed unto thee. 
To comprehend all in a few words, our life is short ; 
we must endeavour to gain the present time with best 
discretion and justice. Use recreation with sobriety. 

XXII. Either this world is a KOCT/XOS, or a comely piece, 
because all disposed and governed by certain order : or 
if it be a mixture, though confused, yet still it is a 
comely piece. For is it possible that in thee there 
should be any beauty at all, and that in the whole world 
there should be nothing but disorder and confusion ? 
and all things in it too, by natural different properties 
one from another differenced and distinguished; and 
yet all through diffused, and by natural sympathy, one 
to another united, as they are ? 

XXIII. A black or malign disposition, an effeminate 
disposition ; an hard inexorable disposition, a wild in 
human disposition, a sheepish disposition, a childish 
disposition ; a blockish, a false, a scurril, a fraudulent, 
a tyrannical : what then ? If he be a stranger in the 
world, that knows not the things that are in it ; why not 
he a stranger as well, that wonders at the things that are 
done in it? 

- XXI V. He is a true fugitive, that flies from reason, 

His Meditations 35 

by which men are sociable. He blind, who cannot see 
with the eyes of his understanding. He poor, that 
stands in need of another, and hath not in himself all 
things needful for this life. He an aposteme of the 
world, who by being discontented with those things that 
happen unto him in the world, doth as it were apostatise, 
and separate himself from common nature s rational 
administration. For the same nature it is that brings 
this unto thee, whatsoever it be, that first brought thee 
into the world. He raises sedition in the city, who by 
irrational actions withdraws his own soul from that one 
and common soul of all rational creatures. 

XXV. There is, who without so much as a coat ; and 
there is, who without so much as a book, doth put 
philosophy in practice. I am half naked, neither have 
I bread to eat, and yet I depart not from reason, saith 
one. But I say ; I want the food of good teaching, and 
instructions, and yet I depart not from reason. 

XXVI. What art and profession soever thou hast 
learned, endeavour to affect it, and comfort thyself in 
it ; and pass the remainder of thy life as one who from 
his whole heart commits himself and whatsoever belongs 
unto him. unto the gods : and as for men, carry not 
thyself either tyrannically or servilely towards any. 

XXVII. Consider in my mind, for example s sake, the 
times of Vespasian : thou shalt see but the same things : 
some marrying, some bringing up children, some sick, 
some dying, some fighting, some feasting, some merchan 
dising, some tilling, some flattering, some boasting, some 
suspecting, some undermining, some wishing to die, 
some fretting and murmuring at their present estate, 
some wooing, some hoarding, some seeking after magis 
tracies, and some after kingdoms. And is not that their 
age quite over, and ended? Again, consider now the 
times of Trajan. There likewise thou seest the very 
self-same things, and that age also is now over and 
ended. In the like manner consider other periods, 
both of times and of whole nations, and see how many 
men, after they had with all their might and main in 
tended and prosecuted some one worldly thing or other, 

36 Marcus Aurelius 

did soon after drop away, and were resolved into the 
elements. But especially thou must call to mind them, 
whom thou thyself in thy lifetime hast known much 
distracted about vain things, and in the meantime 
neglecting to do that, and closely and unseparably (as 
fully satisfied with it) to adhere unto it, which their 
own proper constitution did require. And here thou 
must remember, that thy carriage in every business must 
be according to the worth and due proportion of it, 
for so shalt thou not easily be tired out and vexed, if 
thou shalt not dwell upon small matters longer than is 

XXVIII. Those words which once were common and 
ordinary, are now become obscure and obsolete ; and so 
the names of men once commonly known and famous, 
are now become in a manner obscure and obsolete 
names. . Camillus, Casso, Volesius, Leonnatus ; not 
long after, Scipio, Cato, then Augustus, then Adrianus, 
then Antoninus Pius : all these in a short time will be 
out of date, and, as things of another world as it were, 
become fabulous. And this I say of them, who once 
shined as the wonders of their ages, for as for the rest, 
no sooner are they expired, than with them all their 
fame and memory. And what is it then that shall 
always be remembered ? all is vanity. What is it that 
we must bestow our care and diligence upon ? even upon 
this only : that our minds and wills be just ; that our 
actions be charitable ; that our speech be never deceit 
ful, or that our understanding be not subject to error; 
that our inclination be always set to embrace whatsoever 
shall happen unto us, as necessary, as usual, as ordinary, 
as flowing from such a beginning, and such a fountain, 
from which both thou thyself and all things are. Willingly 
therefore, and wholly surrender up thyself unto that fatal 
concatenation, yielding up thyself unto the fates, to be 
disposed of at their pleasure. 

XXIX. Whatsoever is now present, and from day to 
day hath its existence ; all objects of memories, and the 
minds and memories themselves, incessantly consider, 
all things that are, have their being by change and 

His Meditations 37 

alteration. Use thyself therefore often to meditate upon 
this, that the nature of the universe delights in nothing 
more, than in altering those things that are, and in 
making others like unto them. So that we may say, 
that whatsoever is, is but as it were the seed of that 
which shall be. For if thou think that that only is seed, 
which either the earth or the womb receiveth, thou art 
very simple. 

XXX. Thou art now ready to die, and yet hast thou 
not attained to that perfect simplicity : thou art yet 
subject to many troubles and perturbations ; not yet 
free from all fear and suspicion of external accidents ; 
nor yet either so meekly disposed towards all men, as 
thou shouldest ; or so affected as one, whose only study 
and only wisdom is, to be just in all his actions. 

XXXI. Behold and observe, what is the state of their 
rational part ; and those that the world doth account 
wise, see what things they fly and are afraid of; and 
what things they hunt after. 

XXXII. In another man s mind and understanding 
thy evil cannot subsist, nor in any proper temper or 
distemper of the natural constitution of thy body, which 
is but as it were the coat or cottage of thy soul. 
Wherein then, but in that part of thee, wherein the 
conceit, and apprehension of any misery can subsist ? 
Let not that part therefore admit any such conceit, 
and then all is well. Though thy body which is so near 
it should either be cut or burnt, or suffer any corruption 
or putrefaction, yet let that part to which it belongs to 
judge of these, be still at rest ; that is, let her judge this, 
that whatsoever it is, that equally may happen to a 
wicked man, and to a good man, is neither good nor 
evil. For that which happens equally to him that lives 
according to nature, and to him that doth not, is neither 
according to nature, nor against it ; and by consequent, 
neither good nor bad. 

XXXIII. Ever consider and think upon the world as 
being but one living substance, and having but one soul, 
and how all things in the world, are terminated into one 
sensitive power ; and are done by one general motion 

38 Marcus Aurelius 

as it were, and deliberation of that one soul ; and how 
all things that are, concur in the cause of one another s 
being, and by what manner of connection and con 
catenation all things happen. 

XXXIV. What art thou, that better and divine part 
excepted, but as Epictetus said well, a wretched soul, 
appointed to carry a carcass up and down ? 

XXXV. To suffer change can be no hurt ; as no 
benefit it is, by change to attain to being. The age and 
time of the world is as it were a flood and swift current, 
consisting of the things that are brought to pass in the 
world. For as soon as anything hath appeared, and 
is passed away, another succeeds, and that also will 
presently out of sight. 

XXXVI. Whatsoever doth happen in the world, is, in 
the course of nature, as usual and ordinary as a rose in 
the spring, and fruit in summer. Of the same nature is 
sickness and death ; slander, and lying in wait, and what 
soever else ordinarily doth unto fools use to be occasion 
either of joy or sorrow. That, whatsoever it is, that 
comes after, doth always very naturally, and as it were 
familiarly, follow upon that which was before. For thou 
must consider the things of the world, not as a loose 
independent number, consisting merely of necessary 
events ; but as a discreet connection of things orderly 
and harmoniously disposed. There is then to be seen 
in the things of the world, not a bare succession, but an 
admirable correspondence and affinity. 

XXXVII. Let that of Heraclitus never be out of thy 
mind, that the death of earth, is water, and the death of 
water, is air ; and the death of air, is fire ; and so on the 
contrary. Remember him also who was ignorant whither 
the way did lead, and how that reason being the thing 
by which all things in thf world are administered, and 
which men are continually and most inwardly conversant 
with : yet is the thing, which ordinarily they are most in 
opposition with, and how those things which daily happen 
among them, cease not daily to be strange unto them, 
and that we should not either speak, or do anything as 
men in their sleep, by opinion and bare imagination: for 

His Meditations 39 

then we think we speak and do, and that we must not 
be as children, who follow their father s example ; for 
best reason alleging their bare Kadon TrapL\T/j4 >a l J - fV > or > 
as by successive tradition from our forefathers we have 
received it. 

XXXVIII. Even as if any of the gods should tell thee, 
Thou shalt certainly die to-morrow, or next day, thou 
wouldst not, except thou wert extremely base and pusil 
lanimous, take it for a great benefit, rather to die the 
next day after, than to-morrow ; (for alas, what is the 
difference !) so, for the same reason, think it no great 
matter to die rather many years after, than the very next 

XXXIX. Let it be thy perpetual meditation, how 
many physicians who once looked so grim, and so 
tetrically shrunk their brows upon their patients, are 
dead and gone themselves. How many astrologers, 
after that in great ostentation they had foretold the 
death of some others, how many philosophers after so 
many elaborate tracts and volumes concerning either 
mortality or immortality ; how many brave captains and 
commanders, after the death and slaughter of so many ; 
how many kings and tyrants, after they had with such 
horror and insolency abused their power upon men s 
lives, as though themselves had been immortal ; how 
many, that I may so speak, whole cities both men 
and towns : Helice, Pompeii, Herculaneum. and others 
innumerable are dead and gone. Run them over also, 
whom thou thyself, one after another, hast known in thy 
time to drop away. Such and such a one took care of 
such and such a one s burial, and soon after was buried 
himself. So one, so another : and all things in a short 
time. For herein lieth all indeed, ever to look upon all 
worldly things, as things for the i continuance, that are 
but for a day : and for their worth, most vile, and con 
temptible, as for example, What is man ? That which 
but the other day when he was conceived was vile snivel ; 
and within few days shall be either an embalmed carcass, 
or mere ashes. Thus must thou according to truth and 
nature, throughly consider how man s life is b -t for a 

4o Marcus Aurelius 

very moment of time, and so depart meek and con 
tented : even as if a ripe olive falling should praise the 
ground that bare her, and give thanks to the tree that 
begat her. 

XL. Thou must be like a promontory of the sea, 
against which though the waves beat continually, yet it 
both itself stands, and about it are those swelling waves 
stilled and quieted. 

XLI. Oh, wretched I, to whom this mischance is 
happened ! nay, happy I, to whom this thing being hap 
pened, I can continue without grief; neither wounded 
by that which is present, nor in fear of that which is to 
come. For as for this, it might have happened unto 
any man, but any man having such a thing befallen him, 
could not have continued without grief. Why then 
should that rather be an unhappiness, than this a happi 
ness ? But however, canst thou, O man ! term that 
unhappiness, which is no mischance to the nature of 
man ! Canst thou think that a mischance to the nature 
of man, which is not contrary to the end and will of his 
nature ? What then hast thou learned is the will of 
man s nature? Doth that then which hath happened 
unto thee, hinder thee from being just? or magnani 
mous? or temperate? or wise? or circumspect? or true? 
or modest ? or free ? or from anything else of all those 
things in the present enjoying and possession whereof 
the nature of man, (as then enjoying all that is proper 
unto her,) is fully satisfied? Now to conclude; upon 
all occasion of sorrow remember henceforth to make use 
of this dogma, that whatsoever it is that hath happened 
unto thee, is in very deed no such thing of itself, as a 
misfortune ; but that to bear it generously, is certainly 
great happiness. 

XLII. It is but an ordinary coarse one, yet it is a 
good effectual remedy against the fear of death, for a 
man to consider in his mind the examples of such, who 
greedily and covetously (as it were) did for a long time 
enjoy their lives. What have they got more, than they 
whose deaths have been untimely? Are not they them 
selves dead at the last? as Cadicianus, Fabius, Julianus, 

His Meditations 41 

Lepidus, or any other who in their lifetime having buried 
many, were at the last buried themselves. The whole 
space of any man s life, is but little ; and as little as it is, 
with what troubles, with what manner of dispositions, 
and in the society of how wretched a body must it be 
passed ! Let it be therefore unto thee altogether as a 
matter of indiflferency. For if thou shalt look backward ; 
behold, what an infinite chaos of time doth present itself 
unto thee ; and as infinite a chaos, if thou shalt look 
forward. In that which is so infinite, what difference 
can there be between that which liveth but three days, 
and that which liveth three ages ? 

XLIII. Let thy course ever be the most compendious 
way. The most compendious, is that which is accord 
ing to nature : that is, in all both words and deeds, ever 
to follow that which is most sound and perfect. For 
such a resolution will free a man from all trouble, strife, 
dissembling, and ostentation 

42 Marcus Aurelius 


I. In the morning when thou findest thyself unwilling 
to rise, consider with thyself presently, it is to go about 
a man s work that I am stirred up. Am I then yet 
unwilling to go about that, for which I myself was born 
and brought forth into this world ? Or was I made for 
this, to lay me down, and make much of myself in a 
warm bed ? O but this is pleasing. And was it then 
Tor this tnat thou wert born, that thou mightest enjoy 
pleasure ? Was it not in very truth for this, that thou 
mightest always be busy and in action ? Seest thou not 
how all things in the world besides, how every tree and 
plant, how sparrows and ants, spiders and bees : how all 
in their kind are intent as it were orderly to perform 
whatsoever (towards the preservation of this orderly 
universe) naturally doth become and belong unto them ? 
And wilt not thou do that, which belongs unto a man to 
do ? Wilt not thou run to do that, which thy nature doth 
require? But thou must have some rest. Yes, thou 
must. Nature hath of that also, as well as of eating and 
drinking, allowed thee a certain stint. But thou goest 
beyond thy stint, and beyond that which would suffice, 
and in matter of action, there thou comest short of that 
which thou mayest. It must needs be therefore, that 
thou dost not love thyself, for if thou didst, thou wouldst 
also love thy nature, and that which thy nature doth 
propose unto herself as her end. Others, as many as 
take pleasure in their trade and profession, can even 
pine themselves at their works, and neglect their bodies 
and their food for it ; and doest thou less honour thy 
nature, than an ordinary mechanic his trade ; or a good 
dancer his art ? than a covetous man his silver, and a 
vainglorious man applause ? These to whatsoever they 

His Meditations 43 

take an affection, can be content to want their meat and 
sleep, to further that every one which he affects : and 
shall actions leading to the common good of human 
society, seem more vile unto thee, or worthy of less 
respect and intention ? 

II. How easy a thing is it for a man to put off from 
him all turbulent adventitious imaginations, and presently 
to be in perfect rest and tranquillity ! 

III. Think thyself fit and worthy to speak, or to da 
anything that is according to nature, and let not the 
reproach, or report of some that may ensue upon it,, 
ever deter thee. If it be right and honest to be spoken 
or done, undervalue not thyself so much, as to be dis 
couraged from it. As for them, they have their own 
rational over-ruling part, and their own proper inclina 
tion : which thou must not stand and look about to take 
notice of, but go on straight, whither both thine own 
particular, and the common nature do lead thee ; and 
the way of both these, is but one. 

IV. I continue my course by actions according to 
nature, until I fall and cease, breathing out my last 
breath into that air. by which continually breathed in 
I did live ; and falling upon that earth, out of whose 
gifts and fruits my father gathered his seed, my mother 
her blood, and my nurse her milk, out of which for so 
many years I have been provided, both of meat and 
drink. And lastly, which beareth me that tread upon it, 
and beareth with me that so many ways do abuse it, or 
so freely make use of it, so many ways to so many ends. 

V. No man can admire thee for thy sharp acute lan 
guage, such is thy natural disability that way. Be it so : 
yet there be many other good things, for the want of 
which thou canst not plead the want or natural ability. 
Let them be seen in thee, which depend wholly from 
thee ; sincerity, gravity, laboriousness, contempt of 
pleasures ; be not querulous, be content with little, be 
kind, be free ; avoid all superfluity, all vain prattling ; 
be magnanimous. Doest not thou perceive, how many 
things there be, which notwithstanding any pretence of 
natural indisposition and unfitness, thou mightesX have 

44 Marcus Aurelius 

performed and exhibited, and yet still thou doest volun 
tarily continue drooping downwards ? Or wilt thou say, 
that it is through defect of thy natural constitution, that 
thou art constrained to murmur, to be base and wretched ; 
to flatter ; now to accuse, and now to please, and pacify 
thy body : to be vainglorious, to be so giddy-headed, 
and unsettled in thy thoughts ? nay (witnesses be the 
Gods) of all these thou mightest have been rid long 
ago : only, this thou must have been contented with, to 
have borne the blame of one that is somewhat slow and 
dull. Wherein thou must so exercise thyself, as one 
who neither doth much take to heart this his natural 
defect, nor yet pleaseth himself in it. 

VI. Such there be, who when they have done a good 
turn to any, are ready to set them on the score for it, 
and to require retaliation. Others there be, who though 
they stand not upon retaliation, to require any, yet they 
think with themselves nevertheless, that such a one is 
their debtor, and they know as their word is what they 
have done. Others again there be, who when they have 
done any such thing, do not so much as know what they 
have done ; but are like unto the vine, which beareth 
her grapes, and when once she hath borne her own 
proper fruit, is contented and seeks for no further recom 
pense. As a horse after a race, and a hunting dog when 
he hath hunted, and a bee when she hath made her 
honey, look not for applause and commendation ; so 
neither doth that man that rightly doth understand his 
own nature when he hath done a good turn : but from 
one doth proceed to do another, even as the vine after 
she hath once borne fruit in her own proper season, is 
ready for another time. Thou therefore must be one of 
them, who what they do, barely do it without any further 
thought, and are in a manner insensible of what they do. 
Nay but, will some reply perchance, this very thing 
a rational man is bound unto, to understand what it is, 
that he doeth. For it is the property, say they, of one 
that is naturally sociable, to be sensible, that he doth 
operate sociably : nay, and to desire, that the party him 
self that is sociably dealt with, should be sensible of it 

His Meditations 45 

too. I answer, That which thou sayest is true in 
deed, but the true meaning of that which is said, 
thou dost not understand. And therefore art thou 
one of those first, whom I mentioned. For they also 
are led by a probable appearance of reason. But if 
thou dost desire to understand truly what it is that is 
said, fear not that thou shalt therefore give over any 
sociable action. 

VII. The form of the Athenians prayer did run thus : 
O rain, rain, good Jupiter, upon all the grounds and 
fields that belong to the Athenians. Either we should 
not pray at all, or thus absolutely and freely ; and not 
every one for himself in particular alone. 

VIII. As we say commonly, The physician hath pre 
scribed unto this man, riding ; unto another, cold baths ; 
unto a third, to go barefoot : so it is alike to say, The 
nature of the universe hath prescribed unto this man 
sickness, or blindness, or some loss, or damage or some 
such thing. For as there, when we say of a physician, 
that he hath prescribed anything, our meaning is, that 
he hath appointed this for that, as subordinate and con 
ducing to health : so here, whatsoever doth happen unto 
any, is ordained unto him as a thing subordinate unto 
the fates, and therefore do we say of such things, that 
they do o-vuflaiveiv, that is, happen, or fall together ; as 
of square stones, when either in walls, or pyramids in 
a certain position they fit one another, and agree as it 
were in an harmony, the masons say, that they do 
<rvfj.(3aiveiv ; as if thou shouldest say, fall together : so 
that in the general, though the things be divers that 
make it, yet the consent or harmony itself is but one. 
And as the whole world is made up of all the particular 
bodies of the world, one perfect and complete body, of 
the same nature that particular bodies; so is the destiny 
of particular causes and events one general one, of the 
same nature that particular causes are. What I now 
say, even they that are mere idiots are not ignorant 
of: for they say commonly TOVTO ffapev dvrw, that is, 
This his destiny hath brought upon him. This there 
fore is by the fates properly and particularly brought upon 

46 Marcus Aurelius 

this, as that unto this in particular is by the physician 
prescribed. These therefore let us accept of in like 
manner, as we do those that are prescribed unto us by 
our physicians. For them also in themselves shall we 
find to contain many harsh things, but we nevertheless, 
in hope of health, and recovery, accept of them. Let 
the fulfilling and accomplishment of those things which 
the common nature hath determined, be unto thee as 
thy health. Accept then, and be pleased with whatso 
ever doth happen, though otherwise harsh and un- 
pleasing, as tending to that end, to the health and 
welfare of the universe, and to Jove s happiness and 
prosperity. For this whatsoever it be, should not have 
been produced, had it not conduced to the good of the 
universe. For neither doth any ordinary particular 
nature bring anything to pass, that is not to whatsoever 
is within the sphere of its own proper administration 
and government agreeable and subordinate. For these 
two considerations then thou must be well pleased with 
anything that doth happen unto thee. First, because 
that for thee properly it was brought to pass, and unto 
thee it was prescribed ; and that from the very beginning 
by the series and connection of the first causes, it hath 
ever had a reference unto thee. And secondly, because 
the good success and perfect welfare, and indeed the 
very continuance of Him, that is the Administrator of 
the whole, doth in a manner depend on it. For the 
whole (because whole, therefore entire and perfect) is 
maimed, and mutilated, if thou shalt cut off anything 
at all, whereby the coherence, and contiguity as of parts, 
so of causes, is maintained and preserved. Of which 
certain it is, that thou doest (as much as lieth in thee) 
cut off, and in some sort violently take somewhat away, 
as often as thou art displeased with anything that 

IX. Be not discontented, be not disheartened, be not 
out of hope, if often it succeed not so well with thee 
punctually and precisely to do all things according to the 
right dogmata, but being once cast off, return unto 
them again : and as for those many and more frequent 

His Meditations 47 

occurrences, either of worldly distractions, or human 
infirmities, which as a man thou canst not but in some 
measure be subject unto, be not thou discontented with 
them ; but however, love and affect that only which 
thou dost return unto : a philosopher s life, and proper 
occupation after the most exact manner. And when 
thou dost return to thy philosophy, return not unto it 
as the manner of some is, after play and liberty as it 
were, to their schoolmasters and pedagogues ; but as 
they that have sore eyes to their sponge and egg : or 
as another to his cataplasm ; or as others to their 
fomentations : so shalt not thou make it a matter of 
ostentation at all to obey reason ; but of ease and 
comfort. And remember that philosophy requireth 
nothing of thee, but what thy nature requireth, and 
wouldest thou thyself desire anything that is not accord 
ing to nature ? for which of these sayest thou ; that 
which is according to nature or against it, is of itself 
more kind and pleasing ? Is it not for that respect 
especially, that pleasure itself is to so many men s hurt 
and overthrow, most prevalent, because esteemed com 
monly most kind, and natural ? But consider well 
whether magnanimity rather, and true liberty, and true 
simplicity, and equanimity, and holiness; whether 
these be not most kind and natural ? And prudency 
itself, what more kind and amiable than it, when thou 
shalt truly consider with thyself, what it is through all 
the proper objects of thy rational intellectual faculty 
currently to go on without any fall or stumble ? As for 
the things of the world, their true nature is in a manner 
so involved with obscurity, that unto many philosophers, 
and those no mean ones, they seemed altogether in 
comprehensible : and the Stoics themselves, though they 
judge them not altogether incomprehensible, yet scarce 
and not without much difficulty, comprehensible, so that 
all assent of ours is fallible, for who is he that is in 
fallible in his conclusions? From the nature of things, 
pass now unto their subjects and matter : how temporary, 
how vile are they ! such as may be in the power and 
possession of some abominable loose liver, of some 

4 8 

Marcus Aurelius 

common strumpet, of some notorious oppressor and 
extortioner. Pass from thence to the dispositions of 
them that thou doest ordinarily converse with, how 
hardly do we bear, even with the most loving and 
amiable ! that I may not say, how hard it is for us to 
bear even with our own selves. In such obscurity, and 
impurity of things : in such and so continual a flux both 
of the substances and time ; both of the motions them 
selves, and things moved ; what it is that we can fasten 
upon ; either to honour, and respect especially ; or 
seriously, and studiously to seek after ; I cannot so 
much as conceive. For indeed they are things contrary. 

X. Thou must comfort thyself in the expectation of 
thy natural dissolution, and in the meantime not grieve 
at the delay ; but rest contented in those two tilings. 
First, that nothing shall happen unto thee, which is not 
according to the nature of the universe. Seconuly, that 
it is in thy power, to do nothing against thine own 
proper God, and inward spirit. For it is not in any 
man s power to constrain thee to transgress against him. 

XL What is the use that now at this present I make of 
my soul ? Thus from time to time and upon all occa 
sions thou must put this question to thyself, what is now 
that part of mine which they call the rational mistress 
part, employed about ? Whose soul do I now properly 
possess ? a child s ? or a youth s ? a woman s ? or a 
tyrant s ? some brute, or some wild beast s soul ? 

XII. What those things are in themselves, which by 
the greatest part are esteemed good, thou mayest gather 
even from this. For if a man shall hear things men 
tioned as good, which are really good indeed, such as 
are prudence, temperance, justice, fortitude ; after so 
much heard and conceived, he cannot endure to hear 
of any more, for the word good is properly spoken of 
them. But as for those which by the vulgar are 
esteemed good, if he shall hear them mentioned as 
good, he doth hearken for more. He is well contented 
to hear, that what is spoken by the comedian, is but 
familiarly and popularly spoken, so that even the vulgar 
apprehend the difference. For why is it else, that this 

His Meditations 49 

offends not and needs not to be excused, when virtues 
are styled good : but that which is spoken in commen 
dation of wealth, pleasure, or honour, we entertain it 
only as merrily and pleasantly spoken ? Proceed there 
fore, and inquir- further, whether it may not be that 
those things also which being mentioned upon the stage 
were merrily, and with great applause of the multitude, 
scoffed at with this jest, that they that possessed them, 
had not in all the world of their own, (such was their 
affluence and plenty) so much as a place where to avoid 
their excrements. Whether, I say, those ought not also 
in very deed to be much respected, and esteemed of, 
as the only things that are truly good. 

XIII. All that I consist of, is either form or matter. 
No corruption can reduce either of these unto nothing : 
for neither did I of nothing become a subsistent 
creature. Every part of mine then, will by mutation 
be disposed into a certain part of the whole world, and 
that in time into another part ; and so in infinitum ; by 
which kind of mutation, I also became what I am, and 
so did they that begot me, and they before them, and 
so upwards in infinitum. For so we may be allowed to 
speak, though the age and government of the world, be 
to some certain periods of time limited, and confined. 

XIV. Reason, and rational power, are faculties which 
content themselves with themselves, and their own proper 
operations. And as for their first inclination and motion, 
that they take from themselves. But their progress is 
right to the end and object, which is in their way, as it 
were, and lieth just before them : that is, which is feasible 
and possible, whether it be that which at the first they 
proposed to themselves, or no. For which reason also 
such actions are termed Karopflwo-eis, to intimate the 
directness of the way, by which they are achieved. 
Nothing must be thought to belong to a man, which 
doth not belong unto him as he is a man. These, the 
event of purposes, are not things required in a man. 
The nature of man doth not profess any such things. 
The final ends and consummations of actions are nothing 
at all to a man s nature. The end therefore of a man, 


50 Marcus Aurelius 

or the sutnmum bonum whereby that end is fulfilled, 
cannot consist in the consummation of actions purposed 
and intended. Again, concerning these outward worldly 
things, were it so that any of them did properly belong 
unto man, then would it not belong unto man, to con 
demn them and to stand in opposition with them. 
Neither would he be praiseworthy that can live without 
them ; or he good, (if these were good indeed) who of 
his own accord doth deprive himself of any of them. 
But we see contrariwise, that the more a man doth 
withdraw himself from these wherein external pomp and 
greatness doth consist, or any other like these ; or the 
better he doth bear with the loss of these, the better he 
is accounted. 

XV. Such as thy thoughts and ordinary cogitations 
are, such will thy mind be in time. For the soul doth 
as it were receive its tincture from the fancies, and 
imaginations. Dye it therefore and thoroughly soak it 
with the assiduity of these cogitations. As for example. 
Wheresoever thou mayest live, there it is in thy power 
to live well and happy. But thou mayest live at the 
Court, there then also mayest thou live well and happy. 
Again, that which everything is made for, he is also 
made unto that, and cannot but naturally incline unto 
it. That which anything doth naturally incline unto, 
therein is his end. Wherein the end of everything doth 
consist, therein also doth his good and benefit consist. 
Society therefore is the proper good of a rational crea 
ture. For that we are made lor society, it hath long 
since been demonstrated. Or can any man make any 
question of this, that whatsoever is naturally worse and 
inferior, is ordinarily subordinated to that which is 
better ? and that those things that are best, are made 
one for another ? And those things that have souls, are 
better than those that have none? and of those that 
have, those best that have rational souls ? 

XVI. To desire things impossible is the part of a 
mad man. But it is a thing impossible, that wicked 
man should not commit some such things. Neither 
doth anything happen to any man, which in the ordinary 

His Meditations 51 

course of nature as natural unto him doth not happen. 
Again, the same things happen unto others also. And 
truly, if either he that is ignorant that such a thing hath 
happened unto him, or he that is ambitious to be com 
mended for his magnanimity, can be patient, and is not 
grieved : is it not a grievous thing, that either ignorance, 
or a vain desire to please and to be commended, should 
be more powerful and effectual than true prudence ? As 
for the things themselves, they touch not the soul, 
neither can they have any access unto it : neither can 
they of themselves any ways either affect it, or move it. 
For she herself alone can affect and move herself, and 
according as the dogmata and opinions are, which she 
doth vouchsafe herself, so are those things which, as 
accessories, have any co-existence with her. 

XVII. After one consideration, man is nearest unto 
us ; as we are bound to do them good, and to bear with 
them. But as he may oppose any of our true proper 
actions, so man is unto me but as a thing indifferent : 
even as the sun, or the wind, or some wild beast. By 
some of these it may be, that some operation or other 
of mine, may be hindered ; however, of my mind and 
resolution itself, there can be no let or impediment, by 
reason of that ordinary constant both exception (or 
reservation wherewith it inclineth) and ready conversion 
of objects ; from that which may not be, to that which 
may be, which in the prosecution of its inclinations, as 
occasion serves, it doth observe. For by these the mind 
doth turn and convert any impediment whatsoever, to 
be her aim and purpose. So that what before was the im 
pediment, is now the principal object of her working ; and 
that which before was in her way, is now her readiest way. 

XVIII. Honour that which is chiefest and most 
powerful in the world, and that is it, which makes use 
of all things, and governs all things. So also in thyself, 
honour that which is chiefest, and most powerful ; and 
is of one kind and nature with that which we now spake 
of. For it is the very same, which being in thee, turneth 
all other things to its own use, and by whom also thy life 
is governed. 

52 Marcus Aurelius 

XIX. That which doth not hurt the city itself, cannot 
hurt any citizen. This rule thou must remember to 
apply and make use of upon every conceit and appre 
hension of wrong. If the whole city be not hurt by this, 
neither am I certainly. And if the whole be not, why 
should I make it my private grievance ? consider rather 
what it is wherein he is overseen that is thought to have 
done the wrong. Again, often meditate how swiftly all 
things that subsist, and all things that are done in the 
world, are carried away, and as it were conveyed out of 
sight : for both the substance themselves, we see as a 
flood, are in a continual flux ; and all actions in a per 
petual change ; and the causes themselves, subject to a 
thousand alterations, neither is there anything almost, 
that may ever be said to be now settled and constant. 
Next unto this, and which follows upon it, consider both 
the infi niteness of the time already past, and the immense 
vastness of that which is to come, wherein all things are 
to be resolved and annihilated. Art not thou then a 
very fool, who for these things, art either puffed up with 
pride, or distracted with cares, or canst find in thy heart 
to make such moans as for a thing that would trouble 
thee for a very long time? Consider the whole universe, 
whereof thou art but a very little part, and the whole 
age of the world together, whereof but a short and very 
momentary portion is allotted unto thee, and all the 
fates and destinies together, of which how much is it 
that comes to thy part and share ! Again : another 
doth trespass against me. Let him look to that. He 
is master of his own disposition, and of his own opera 
tion. I for my part am in the meantime in possession 
of as much, as the common nature would have me to 
possess : and that which mine own nature would have 
me do, I do. 

XX. Let not that chief commanding part of thy soul 
be ever subject to any variation through any corporal 
either pain or pleasure, neither suffer it to be mixed with 
these, but let it both circumscribe itself, and confine 
those affections to their own proper parts and members. 
But if at any time they do reflect and rebound upon the 

His Meditations 53 

mind and understanding (as in an united and compacted 
body it must needs ;) then must thou not go about to 
resist sense and feeling, it being natural. However let 
not thy understanding to this natural sense and feeling, 
which whether unto our flesh pleasant or painful, is unto 
us nothing properly, add an opinion of either good or 
bad and all is well. 

XXI. To live with the Gods. He liveth with the 
Gods, who at all times affords unto them the spectacle 
of a soul, both contented and well pleased with whatso 
ever is afforded, or allotted unto her ; and performing 
whatsoever is pleasing to that Spirit, whom (being part 
of himself) Jove hath appointed to every man as his 
overseer and governor. 

XXII. Be not angry neither with him whose breath, 
neither with him whose arm holes, are offensive. What 
can he do ? such is his breath naturally, and such are 
his arm holes ; and from such, such an effect, and such 
a smell must of necessity proceed. O, but the man 
(sayest thou) hath understanding in him, and might of 
himself know, that he by standing near, cannot choose 
but offend. And thou also (God bless thee !) hast 
understanding. Let thy reasonable faculty, work upon 
his reasonable faculty ; show him his fault, admonish 
him. If he hearken unto thee, thou hast cured him, 
and there will be no more occasion of anger. 

XXIII. Where there shall neither roarer be, nor 
harlot. Why so ? As thou dost purpose to live, when 
thou hast retired thyself to some such place, where 
neither roarer nor harlot is : so mayest thou here. And 
if they will not suffer thee, then mayest thou leave thy 
life rather than thy calling, but so as one that doth not 
think himself anyways wronged. Only as one would say, 
Here is a smoke ; I will out of it. And what a great 
matter is this ! Now till some such thing force me out, 
I will continue free ; neither shall any man hinder me 
to do what I will, and my will shall ever be by the 
proper nature of a reasonable and sociable creature, 
regulated and directed. 

XXIV. That rational essence by which the universe is 

54 Marcus Aurelius 

governed, is for community and society ; and therefore 
hath it both made the things that are worse, for the best, 
and hath allied and knit together those which are best, 
as it were in an harmony. Seest thou not how it hath 
sub-ordinated, and co-ordinated ? and how it hath dis 
tributed unto everything according to its worth ? and which have the pre-eminency and superiority above 
all, hath it united together, into a mutual consent and 

XXV. How hast thou carried thyself hitherto towards 
the Gods? towards thy parents? towards thy brethren? 
towards thy wife ? towards thy children ? towards thy 
masters ? thy foster-fathers ? thy friends ? thy domestics ? 
thy servants ? Is it so with thee, that hitherto thou hast 
neither by word or deed wronged any of them? Re 
member withal through how many things thou hast 
already passed, and how many thou hast been able to 
endure ; so that now the legend of thy life is full, and thy 
charge is accomplished. Again, how many truly good 
things have certainly by thee been discerned ? how many 
pleasures, how many pains hast thou passed over with 
contempt ? how many things eternally glorious hast 
thou despised ? towards how many perverse unreason 
able men hast thou carried thyself kindly, and dis 
creetly ? 

XXVI. Why should imprudent unlearned souls trouble 
that which is both learned, and prudent ? And which is 
that that is so ? she that understandeth the beginning 
and the end, and hath the true knowledge of that 
rational essence, that passeth through all things sub 
sisting, and through all ages being ever the same, dis 
posing and dispensing as it were this universe by certain 
periods of time. 

XXVII. Within a very little while, thou wilt be either 
ashes, or a sceletum ; and a name perchance ; and per 
chance, not so much as a name. And what is that but 
an empty sound, and a rebounding echo ? Those things 
which in this life are dearest unto us, and of most 
account, they are in themselves but vain, putrid, con 
temptible. The most weighty and serious, if rightly 

His Meditations 55 

esteemed, but as puppies, biting one another : or un 
toward children, now laughing and then crying. As for 
faith, and modesty, and justice, and truth, they long 
since, as one of the poets hath it, have abandoned this 
spacious earth, and retired themselves unto heaven. 
What is it then that doth keep thee here, if things 
sensible be so mutable and unsettled ? and the senses 
so obscure, and so fallible ? and our souls nothing but 
an exhalation of blood ? and to be in credit among such, 
be but vanity? What is it that thou dost stay for? an 
extinction, or a translation ; either of them with a 
propitious and contented mind. But still that time 
come, what will content thee ? what else, but to worship 
and praise the Gods ; and to do good unto men. To 
bear with them, and to forbear to do them any wrong. 
And for all external things belonging either to this thy 
wretched body, or life, to remember that they are neither 
thine, nor in thy power. 

XXVIII. Thou mayest always speed, if thou wilt but 
make choice of the right way ; if in the course both of 
thine opinions and actions, thou wilt observe a true 
method. These two things be common to the souls, 
as of God, so of men, and of every reasonable creature, 
first that in their own proper work they cannot be 
hindered by anything : and secondly, that their happi 
ness doth consist in a disposition to, and in the practice 
of righteousness ; and that in these their desire is 

XXIX. If this neither be my wicked act, nor an act 
anyways depending from any wickedness of mine, and 
that by it the public is not hurt ; what doth it concern 
me ? And wherein can the public be hurt ? For thou 
must not altogether be carried by conceit and common 
opinion : as for help thou must afford that unto them 
after thy best ability, and as occasion shall require, 
though they sustain damage, but in these middle or 
worldly things ; but however do not thou conceive that 
they are truly hurt thereby : for that is not right. But as 
that old foster-father in the comedy, being now to take 
his leave doth with a great deal of ceremony, require his 

56 Marcus Aurelius 

foster-child s rhombus, or rattle-top, remembering never 
theless that it is but a rhombus ; so here also do thou 
likewise. For indeed what is all this pleading and 
public bawling for at the courts ? O man, hast thou 
forgotten what those things are ! yea but they are things 
that others much care for, and highly esteem of. Wilt 
thou therefore be a fool too ? Once I was ; let that 

XXX. Let death surprise me when it will, and where 
it will, I may be eu/xoipos, or a happy man, nevertheless. 
For he is a happy man, who in his lifetime dealeth unto 
himself a happy lot and portion. A happy lot and 
portion is, good inclinations of the soul, good desires, 
good actions. 

His Meditations 57 


I. The matter itself, of which the universe doth 
consist, is of itself very tractable and pliable. That 
rational essence that doth govern it, hath in itself no 
cause to do evil. It hath no evil in itself, neither can 
it do anything that is evil : neither can anything be 
hurt by it. And all things are done and determined 
according to its will and prescript. 

II. Be it all one unto thee, whether half frozen or well 
warm ; whether only slumbering, or after a full sleep ; 
whether discommended or commended thou do thy duty : 
or whether dying or doing somewhat else ; for that also 
to die/ must among the rest be reckoned as one of the 
duties and actions of our lives. 

III. Look in, let not either the proper quality, or the 
true worth of anything pass thee, before thou hast fully 
apprehended it. 

IV. All substances come soon to their change, and 
either they shall be resolved by way of exhalation (if so 
be that all things shall be reunited into one substance), 
or as others maintain, they shall be scattered and dis 
persed. As for that Rational Essence by which all 
things are governed, as it best understandeth itself, both 
its own disposition, and what it doth, and what matter it 
hath to do with and accordingly doth all things ; so we 
that do not, no wonder, if we wonder at many things, 
the reasons whereof we cannot comprehend. 

V. The best kind of revenge is, not to become like 
unto them. 

VI. Let this be thy only joy, and thy only comfort, 
from one sociable kind action without intermission to 
pass unto another, God being ever in thy mind. 

VII. The rational commanding part, as it alone can 

58 Marcus Aurelius 

stir up and turn itself; so it maketh both itself to be, and 
everything that happeneth, to appear unto itself, as it 
will itself. 

VIII. According to the nature of the universe all 
things particular are determined, not according to any 
other nature, either about compassing and containing ; 
or within, dispersed and contained ; or without, depend 
ing. Either this universe is a mere confused mass, and 
an intricate context of things, which shall in time be 
scattered and dispersed again : or it is an union con 
sisting of order, and administered by Providence. If the 
first, why should I desire to continue any longer in this 
fortuit confusion and commixtion ? or why should I take 
care for anything else, but that as soon as may be I 
may be earth again ? And why should I trouble myself 
any more whilst I seek to please the Gods ? Whatsoever 
I do, dispersion is my end, and will come upon me 
whether I will or no. But if the latter be, then am not 
I religious in vain ; then will I be quiet and patient, and 
put my trust in Him, who is the Governor of all. 

IX. Whensoever by some present hard occurrences 
thou art constrained to be in some sort troubled and 
vexed, return unto thyself as soon as may be, and be not 
out of tune longer than thou must needs. For so shalt 
thou be the better able to keep thy part another time, 
and to maintain the harmony, if thou dost use thyself to 
this continually ; once out, presently to have recourse 
unto it, and to begin again. 

X. If it were that thou hadst at one time both a step 
mother, and a natural mother living, thou wouldst honour 
and respect her also ; nevertheless to thine own natural 
mother would thy refuge, and recourse be continually. 
So let the court and thy philosophy be unto thee. Have 
recourse unto it often, and comfort thyself in her, by 
whom it is that those other things are made tolerable 
unto thee, and thou also in those things not intolerable 
unto others. 

XI. How marvellous useful it is for a man to represent 
unto himself meats, and all such things that are for the 
mouth, under a right apprehension and imagination ! as 

His Meditations 59 

for example : This is the carcass of a fish ; this of a 
bird ; and this of a hog. And again more generally ; 
This phalernum, this excellent highly commended wine, 
is but the bare juice of an ordinary grape. This purple 
robe, but sheep s hairs, dyed with the blood of a shell 
fish. So for coitus, it is but the attrition of an ordinary 
base entrail, and the excretion of a little vile snivel, with 
a certain kind of convulsion : according to Hippocrates 
his opinion. How excellent useful are these lively 
fancies and representations of things, thus penetrating 
and passing through the objects, to make their true 
nature known and apparent ! This must thou use all 
thy life long, and upon all occasions : and then especially, 
when matters are apprehended as of great worth and 
respect, thy art and care must be to uncover them, and 
to behold their vileness, and to take away from them all 
those serious circumstances and expressions, under which 
they made so grave a show. For outward pomp and 
appearance is a great juggler ; and then especially art 
thou most in danger to be beguiled by it, when (to a 
man s thinking) thou most seemest to be employed about 
matters of moment. 

XII. See what Crates pronounceth concerning Xeno- 
crates himself. 

XIII. Those things which the common sort of people 
do admire, are most of them such things as are very 
general, and may be comprehended under things merely 
natural, or naturally affected and qualified : as stones, 
wood, figs, vines, olives. Those that be admired by 
them that are more moderate and restrained, are com 
prehended under things animated : as flocks and herds. 
Those that are yet more gentle and curious, their ad 
miration is commonly confined to reasonable creatures 
only ; not in general as they are reasonable, but as they 
are capable of art, or of some craft and subtile invention : 
or perchance barely to reasonable creatures ; as they 
that delight in the possession of many slaves. But he 
that honours a reasonable soul in general, as it is reason 
able and naturallv sociable, doth little regard anything 
else : and above all things is careful to preserve his own, 

60 Marcus Aurelius 

in the continual habit and exercise both of reason and 
sociableness : and thereby doth co-operate with him, of 
whose nature he doth also participate ; God. 

XIV. Some things hasten to be, and others to be no 
more. And even whatsoever now is, some part thereof 
hath already perished. Perpetual fluxes and alterations 
renew the world, as the perpetual course of time doth 
make the age of the world (of itself infinite) to appear 
always fresh and new. In such a flux and course of all 
things, what of these things that hasten so fast away 
should any man regard, since among all there is not any 
that a man may fasten and fix upon ? as if a man would 
settle his affection upon some ordinary sparrow flying by 
him, who is no sooner seen, than out of sight. For we 
must not think otherwise of our lives, than as a mere 
exhalation of blood, or of an ordinary respiration of air. 
For what in our common apprehension is, to breathe in 
the air and to breathe it out again, which we do daily : 
so much is it and no more, at once to breathe out all 
thy respirative faculty into that common air from whence 
but lately (as being but from yesterday, and to-day), thou 
didst first breathe it in, and with it, life. 

XV. Not vegetative spiration, it is not surely (which 
plants have) that in this life should be so dear unto us ; 
nor sensitive respiration, the proper life of beasts, both 
tame and wild ; nor this our imaginative faculty : nor 
that we are subject to be led and carried up and down 
by the strength of our sensual appetites ; or that we can 
gather, and live together; or that we can feed : for that 
in effect is no better, than that we can void the excre 
ments of our food. What is it then that should be dear 
unto us? to hear a clattering noise? if not that, then 
neither to be applauded by the tongues of men. For 
the praises of many tongues, is in effect no better than 
the clattering of so many tongues. If then neither 
applause, what is there remaining that should be dear 
unto thee ? This I think : that in all thy motions and 
actions thou be moved, and restrained according to thine 
own true natural constitution and construction only. 
And to this even ordinary arts and professions do lead 

His Meditations 61 

us. For it is that which every art doth aim at, that 
whatsoever it is, that is by art effected and prepared, 
may be fit for that work that it is prepared for. This is 
the end that he that dresseth the vine, and he that takes 
upon him either to tame colts, or to train up dogs, doth 
aim at. What else doth the education of children, and 
all learned professions tend unto ? Certainly then it is 
that, which should be dear unto us also. If in this 
particular it go well with thee, care not for the obtaining 
of other things. But is it so, that thou canst not but 
respect other things also ? Then canst not thou truly 
be free? then canst thou not have self-content: then 
wilt thou ever be subject to passions. For it is not 
possible, but that thou must be envious, and jealous, and 
suspicious of them whom thou knowest can bereave 
thee of such things ; and again, a secret underminer of 
them, whom thou seest in present possession of that 
which is dear unto thee. To be short, he must of 
necessity be full of confusion within himstlf, and often 
accuse the Gods, whosoever stands in need of these 
things. But if thou shalt honour and respect thy mind 
only, that will make thee acceptable towards thyself, 
towards thy friends very tractable ; and conformable and 
concordant with the Gods ; that is, accepting with praises 
whatsoever they shall think good to appoint and allot 
unto thee. 

XVI. Under, above, and about, are the motions of 
the elements ; but the motion of virtue, is none of those 
motions, but is somewhat more excellent and divine. 
Whose way (to speed and prosper in it) must be through 
a way, that is not easily comprehended. 

XVII. Who can choose but wonder at them ? They 
will not speak well of them that are at the same time 
with them, and live with them ; yet they themselves are 
very ambitious, that they that shall follow, whom they 
have never seen, nor shall ever see, should speak well 
of them. As if a man should grieve that he hath not 
been commended by them, that lived before him. 

XVIII. Do not ever conceive anything impossible to 
man, which by thee cannot, or not without much difficulty 

62 Marcus Aurelius 

be effected ; but whatsoever in general thou canst con 
ceive possible and proper unto any man, think that very 
possible unto thee also. 

XIX. Suppose that at the palestra somebody hath all 
to-torn thee with his nails, and hath broken thy head. 
Well, thou art wounded. Yet thou dost not exclaim ; 
thou art not offended with him. Thou dost not suspect 
him for it afterwards, as one that watcheth to do thee 
a mischief. Yea even then, though thou dost thy best to 
save thyself from him, yet not from him as an enemy. 
It is not by way of any suspicious indignation, but by 
way of gentle and friendly declination. Keep the same 
mind and disposition in other parts of thy life also. For 
many things there be, which we must conceit and appre 
hend, as though we had had to do with an antagonist 
at the palestra. For as I said, it is very possible for us 
to avoid and decline, though we neither suspect, nor 

XX. If anybody shall reprove me, and shall make it 
apparent unto me, that in any either opinion or action 
of mine I do err, I will most gladly retract. For it is 
the truth that I seek after, by which I am sure that never 
any man was hurt ; and as sure, that he is hurt that 
continueth in any error, or ignorance whatsoever. 

XXI. I for my part will do what belongs unto me ; as 
for other things, whether things unsensible or things 
irrational ; or if rational, yet deceived and ignorant of 
the true way, they shall not trouble or distract me. For 
as for those creatures which are not endued with reason, 
and all other things and matters of the world whatsoever, 
I freely, and generously, as one endued with reason, of 
things that have none, make use of them. And as for 
men, towards them as naturally partakers of the same 
reason, my care is to carry myself sociably. But what 
soever it is that thou art about, remember to call upon 
the Gods. And as for the time how long thou shall live 
to do these things, let it be altogether indifferent unto 
thee, for even three such hours are sufficient. 

XXII. Alexander of Macedon, and he that dressed 
his mules, when once dead both came to one. For 

His Meditations 63 

either they were both resumed into those original 
rational essences from whence all things in the world 
are propagated ; or both after one fashion were scattered 
into atoms. 

XXIII. Consider how many different things, whether 
they concern our bodies, or our souls, in a moment of 
time come to pass in every one of us, and so thou wilt 
not wonder if many more things or rather all things that 
are done, can at one time subsist, and coexist in that 
both one and general, which we call the world. 

XXIV. If any should put this question unto thee, 
how this word Antoninus is written, wouldst thou not 
presently fix thine intention upon it, and utter out in 
order every letter of it? And if any shall begin to 
gainsay thee, and quarrel with thee about it ; wilt thou 
quarrel with him again, or rather go on meekly as thou 
hast begun, until thou hast numbered out every letter? 
Here then likewise remember, that every duty that 
belongs unto a man doth consist of some certain letters 
or numbers as it were, to which without any noise or 
tumult keeping thyself, thou must orderly proceed to 
thy proposed end, forbearing to quarrel with him that 
would quarrel and fall out with thee. 

XXV. Is it not a cruel thing to forbid men to affect 
those things, which they conceive to agree best with 
their own natures, and to tend most to their own proper 
good and behoof? But thou after a sort deniest them 
this liberty, as often as thou art angry with them for 
their sins. For surely they are led unto those sins 
whatsoever they be, as to their proper good and 
commodity. But it is not so (thou wilt object per 
chance). Thou therefore teach them better, and make 
it appear unto them : but be not thou angry with them. 

XXVI. Death is a cessation from the impression of 
the senses, the tyranny of the passions, the errors of 
the mind, and the servitude of the body. 

XXVII. If in this kind of life thy body be able to 
hold out, it is a shame that thy soul should faint first, 
and give over. Take heed, lest of a philosopher thou 
become a mere Caesar in time, and receive a new 

64 Marcus Aurelius 

tincture from the court. For it may happen if thou 
dost not take heed. Keep thyself therefore, truly 
simple, good, sincere, grave, free from all ostentation, 
a lover of that which is just, religious, kind, tender 
hearted, strong and vigorous to undergo anything that 
becomes thee. Endeavour to continue such, as philo 
sophy (hadst thou wholly and constantly applied thyself 
unto it) would have made, and secured thee. Worship 
the Gods, procure the welfare of men, this life is short. 
Charitable actions, and a holy disposition, is the only 
fruit of this earthly life. 

XXVIII. Do all things as becometh the disciple of 
Antoninus Pius. Remember his resolute constancy in 
things that were done by him according to reason, his 
equability in all things, his sanctity; the cheerfulness 
of his countenance, his sweetness, and how free he was 
from all vainglory ; how careful to come to the true 
and exact knowledge of matters in hand, and how he 
would by no means give over till he did fully, and 
plainly understand the whole state of the business ; and 
how patiently, and without any contestation he would 
bear with them, that did unjustly condemn him : how 
he would never be over-hasty in anything, nor give ear 
to slanders and false accusations, but examine and 
observe with best diligence the several actions and dis 
positions of men. Again, how he was no backbiter, 
nor easily frightened, nor suspicious, and in his language 
free from all affectation and curiosity : and how easily 
he would content himself with few things, as lodging, 
bedding, clothing, and ordinary nourishment, and 
attendance. How able to endure labour, how patient ; 
able through his spare diet to continue from morning 
to evening without any necessity of withdrawing before 
his accustomed hours to the necessities of nature : his 
uniformity and constancy in matter of friendship. How 
he would bear with them that with all boldness and 
liberty opposed his opinions ; and even rejoice if any 
man could better advise him : and lastly, how religious 
he was without superstition. All these things of him 
remember, thai whensoever thy last hour shall come 

His Meditations 65 

upon thee, it may find thee, as it did him, ready for it 
in the possession of a good conscience. 

XXIX. Stir up thy mind, and recall thy wits again 
from thy natural dreams, and visions, and when thou 
art perfectly awoken, and canst perceive that they were 
but dreams that troubled thee, as one newly awakened 
out of another kind of sleep look upon these worldly 
things with the same mind as thou didst upon those, 
that thou sawest in thy sleep. 

XXX. I consist of body and soul. Unto my body 
all things are indifferent, for of itself it cannot affect one 
thing more than another with apprehension of any 
difference ; as for my mind, all things which are not 
within the verge of her own operation, are indifferent 
unto her, and for her own operations, those altogether 
depend of her; neither does she busy herself about 
any, but those that are present ; for as for future and 
past operations, those also are now at this present in 
different unto her. 

XXXI. As long as the foot doth that which belongeth 
unto it to do, and the hand that which belongs unto it, 
their labour, whatsoever it be, is not unnatural. So a 
man as long as he doth that which is proper unto a man, 
his labour cannot be against nature; and if it be not 
against nature, then neither is it hurtful unto him. But 
if it were so that happiness did consist in pleasure : 
how came notorious robbers, impure abominable livers, 
parricides, and tyrants, in so large a measure to have 
their part of pleasures ? 

XXXII. Dost thou not see, how even those that 
profess mechanic arts, though in some respect they be 
no better than mere idiots, yet they stick close to the 
course of their trade, neither can they find in their heart 
to decline from it : and is it not a grievous thing that an 
architect, or a physician shall respect the course and 
mysteries of their profession, more than a man the 
proper course and condition of his own nature, reason, 
which is common to him and to the Gods? 

XXXIII. Asia, Europe ; what are they, but as corners 
of the whole world ; of which the whole sea, is but as 

66 . Marcus Aurelius 

one drop ; and the great Mount Athos, but as a clod, as 
all present time is but as one point of eternity. All, 
petty things ; all things that are soon altered, soon 
perished. And all things come from one beginning; 
either all severally and particularly deliberated and re 
solved upon, by the general ruler and governor of all ; 
or all by necessary consequence. So that the dreadful 
hiatus of a gaping lion, and all poison, and all hurtful 
things, are but (as the thorn and the mire) the necessary 
consequences of goodly fair things. Think not of these 
therefore, as things contrary to those which thou dost 
much honour, and respect ; but consider in thy mind 
the true fountain of all. 

XXXIV. He that seeth the things that are now, hath 
seen all that either was ever, or ever shall be, for all 
things are of one kind ; and all like one unto another. 
Meditate often upon the connection of all things in the 
world ; and upon the mutual relation that they have one 
unto another. For ; 1 things are after a sort folded and 
involved one within another, and by these means all 
agree well together. For one thing is consequent unto 
another, by local motion, by natural conspiration and 
agreement, and by substantial union, or, reduction of all 
substances into one. 

XXXV. Fit and accommodate thyself to that estate 
and to those occurrences, which by the destinies have 
been annexed unto thee ; and love those men whom 
thy fate it is to live with ; but love them truly. An 
instrument, a tool, an utensil, whatsoever it be, if it be 
fit for the purpose it was made for, it is as it should be, 
though he perchance that made and fitted it, be out of 
sight and gone. But in things natural, that power which 
hath framed and fitted them, is and abideth within them 
still : for which reason she ought also the more to be 
respected, and we are the more obliged (if we may live 
and pass our time according to her purpose and inten 
tion) to think that all is well with us, and according to 
our own minds. After this manner also, and in this 
respect it is, that he that is all in all doth enjoy his 

His Meditations 67 

XXXVI. What things soever are not within the proper 
power and jurisdiction of thine own will either to com 
pass or avoid, if thou shalt propose unto thyself any of 
those things as either good, or evil ; it must needs be 
that according as thou shalt either fall into that which 
thou dost think evil, or miss of that which thou dost 
think good, so wilt thou be ready both to complain of 
the Gods, and to hate those men, who either shall be so 
indeed, or shall by thee be suspected as the cause either 
of thy missing of the one, or falling into the other. And 
indeed we must needs commit many evils, if we incline 
to any of these things, more or less, with an opinion of 
any difference. But if we mind and fancy those things 
only, as good and bad, which wholly depend of our own 
wills, there is no more occasion why we should either 
murmur against the Gods, or be at enmity with any 

XXXVII. We all work to one effect, some willingly, 
and with a rational apprehension of what we do : others 
without any such knowledge. As I think Heraclitus in 
a place speaketh of them that sleep, that even they do 
work in their kind, and do confer to the general opera 
tions of the world. One man therefore doth co-operate 
after one sort, and another after another sort; but even 
he that doth murmur, and to his power doth resist and 
hinder ; even he as much as any doth co-operate. For 
of such also did the world stand in need. Now do thou 
consider among which of these thou wilt rank thyself. 
For as for him who is the Administrator of all, he will 
make good use of thee whether thou wilt or no, and 
make thee (as a part and member of the whole) so to 
co-operate with him, that whatsoever thou doest, shall 
turn to the furtherance of his own counsels, and resolu 
tions. But be not thou for shame such a part of the 
whole, as that vile and ridiculous verse (which Chry- 
sippus in a place doth mention) is a part of the comedy. 

XXXVIII. Doth either the sun take upon him to do 
that which belongs to the rain ? or his son ^Esculapius 
that, which unto the earth doth properly belong ? How 
is it with every one of the stars in particular ? Though 

68 Marcus Aurelius 

they all differ one" from another, and have their several 
charges and functions by themselves, do they not all 
nevertheless concur and co-operate to one end ? 

XXXIX. If so be that the Gods have deliberated in 
particular of those things that should happen unto me, 
I must stand to their deliberation, as discrete and wise. 
For that a God should be an imprudent God, is a thing 
hard even to conceive : and why should they resolve to 
do me hurt ? for what profit either unto them or the 
universe (which they specially take care for) could arise 
from it ? But if so be that they have not deliberated of 
me in particular, certainly they have of the whole in 
general, and those things which in consequence and 
coherence of this general deliberation happen unto me 
in particular, I am bound to embrace and accept of. 
But if so be that they have not deliberated at all (which 
indeed is very irreligious for any man to believe : for 
then let us neither sacrifice, nor pray, nor respect our 
oaths, neither let us any more use any of those things, 
which we persuaded of the presence and secret conversa 
tion of the Gods among us, daily use and practise :) but, 
I say, if so be that they have not indeed either in general, 
or particular deliberated of any of those things, that 
hnppen unto us in this world; yet God be thanked, that 
of those things that concern myself, it is lawful for me 
to deliberate myself, and all my deliberation is but con 
cerning that which may be to me most profitable. Now 
that unto every one is most profitable, which is accord 
ing to his own constitution and nature. And my nature 
is, to be rational in all my actions and as a good, and 
natural member of a city and commonwealth, towards 
my fellow members ever to be sociably and kindly dis 
posed and affected. My city and country as I am 
Antoninus, is Rome ; as a man, the whole world. Those 
things therefore that are expedient and profitable to 
those cities, are the only things that are good and ex 
pedient for me. 

XL. Whatsoever in any kind doth happen to any one, 
is expedient to the whole. And thus much to content 
us might suffice, that it is expedient for the whole in 

His Meditations 69 

general. But yet this also shalt thou generally perceive, 
if thou dost diligently take heed, that whatsoever doth 
happen to any one man or men. . . . And now I am 
content that the word expedient, should more generally 
be understood of those things which we otherwise call 
middle things, or things indifferent; as health, wealth, 
and the like. 

XLI. As the ordinary shows of the theatre and of 
other such places, when thou art presented with them, 
affect thee ; as the same things still seen, and in the 
same fashion, make the sight ingrateful and tedious ; so 
must all the things that we see all our life long affect us. 
For all things, above and below, are still the same, and 
from the same causes. When then will there be an 

XLII. Let the several deaths of men of all sorts, and 
of all sorts of professions, and of all sort of nations, be 
a perpetual object of thy thought?, ... so that thou 
mayst even come down to Philistio, Phoebus, and 
Oruianion. Pass now to other generations. Thither 
shall we after many changes, where so many brave 
orators are ; where so many grave philosophers ; Hera- 
clitus, Pythagoras, Socrates. Where so many heroes of 
the old times; and then so many brave captains of the 
latter times ; and so many kings. After all these, where 
Eudoxus, Hipparchus, Archimedes ; where so many 
other sharp, generous, industrious, subtile, peremptory 
dispositions ; and among others, even they, that have 
been the greatest scoffers and deriders of the frailty and 
brevity of this our human life ; as Menippus, and others, 
as many as there have been such as he. Of all these 
consider, that they long since are all dead, and gone. 
And what do they suffer by it ! Nay they that have not 
so much as a name remaining, what are they the worse 
for it ? One thing there is, and that only, which is 
worth our while in this world, and ought by us much 
to be esteemed : and that is, according to truth and 
righteousness, meekly and lovingly to converse with false, 
and unrighteous men. 

XLI 1 1. When thou wilt comfort and cheer thyself, 

yo Marcus Aurelius 

call to mind the several gifts and virtues of them, whom 
thou dost daily converse with ; as for example, the in 
dustry of the one ; the modesty of another ; the liberality 
of a third ; of another some other thing. For nothing 
can so much rejoice thee, as the resemblances and 
parallels of several virtues, visible and eminent in the 
dispositions of those who live with thee ; especially 
when, all at once, as near as may be, they represent 
themselves unto thee. And therefore thou must have 
them always in a readiness. 

XLIV. Dost thou grieve that thou dost weigh but so 
many pounds, and not three hundred rather ? Just as 
much reason hast thou to grieve that thou must live b it 
so many years, and not longer. For as for bulk and sub 
stance thou dost content thyself with that proportion of 
it that is allotted unto thee, so shouldst thou for time. 

XLV. Let us do our best endeavours to persuade 
them ; but however, if reason and justice lead thee to it, 
do it, though they be never so much against it. But if 
any shall by force withstand thee, and hinder thee in it, 
convert thy virtuous inclination from one object unto 
another, from justice to contented equanimity, and 
cheerful patience : so that what in the one is thy hin 
drance, thou mayst make use of it for the exercise of 
another virtue : and remember that it was with due 
exception, and reservation, that thou didst at first incline 
and desire. For thou didst not set thy mind upon things 
impossible. Upon what then ? that all thy desires might 
ever be moderated with this due kind of reservation. 
And this thou hast, and mayst always obtain, whether 
the thing desired be in thy power or no. And what do 
I care for more, if that for which I was born and brought 
forth into the world (to rule all my desires with reason 
and discretion) may be ? 

XLV I. The ambitious supposeth another man s act, 
praise and applause, to be his own happiness ; the volup 
tuous his own sense and feeling ; but he that is wise, 
his own action. 

XLVII. It is in thy power absolutely to exclude all 
manner of conceit and opinion, as concerning this 

His Meditations 71 

matter ; and by the same means, to exclude all grief and 
sorrow from thy soul. For as for the things and objects 
themselves, they of themselves have no such power, 
whereby to beget and force upon us any opinion at all. 

XLVIII. Use thyself when any man speaks unto thee, 
so to hearken unto him, as that in the interim thou give 
not way to any other thoughts ; that so thou mayst (as 
far as is possible) seem fixed and fastened to his very 
soul, whosoever he be that speaks unto thee. 

XLIX. That which is not good for the bee-hive, 
cannot be good for the bee. 

L. Will either passengers, or patients, find fault and 
complain, either the one if they be well carried, or the 
others if well cured ? Do they take care for any more 
than this ; the one, that their shipmaster may bring them 
safe to land, and the other, that their physician may 
effect their recovery ? 

LI. How many of them who came into the world 
at the same time when I did, are already gone out 
of it? 

LII. To them that are sick of the jaundice, honey 
seems bitter ; and to them that are bitten by a mad dog, 
the water terrible ; and to children, a little ball seems 
a fine thing. And why then should I be angry ? or do 
I think that error and false opinion is less powerful to 
make men transgress, than either choler, being immo 
derate and excessive, to cause the jaundice ; or poison, to 
cause rage ? 

LIII. No man can hinder thee to live as thy nature 
doth require. Nothing can happen unto thee, but what 
the common good of nature doth require. 

LIV. What manner of men they be whom they seek 
to please, and what to get, and by what actions : how 
soon time will cover and bury all things, and how many 
it hath already buried 1 

72 Marcus Aurelius 


I. What is wickedness ? It is that which many rimes 
and often thou hast already seen and known in the world. 
And so oft as anything doth happen that might otherwise 
trouble thee, let this memento presently come to thy 
mind, that it is that which thou hast already often seen 
and known. Generally, above and below, thou shalt find 
but the same things. The very same things whereof 
ancient stories, middle age stories, and fresh stories are 
full : whereof towns are full, and nouses full. There is 
nothing that is new. All things that are, are both 
usual and of little continuance. 

II. What fear is there that thy dogmata, or philoso 
phical resolutions and conclusions, should become dead 
in thee, and lose their proper power and efficacy to make 
thee live happy, as long as those proper and correlative 
fancies, and representations of things on which they 
mutually depend (which continually to stir up and revive 
is in thy power,) are still kept fresh and alive ? It is in 
my power concerning this thing that is happened, what 
soever it be, to conceit that which is right and true. If 
it be, why then am I troubled ? Those things that are 
without my understanding, are nothing to it at all : and 
that is it only, which doth properly concern me. Be 
always in this mind, and thou wilt be right. 

III. That which most men would think themselves 
most happy for, and would prefer before all things, if the 
Gods would grant it unto them after their deaths, thou 
mayst whilst thou livest grant unto thyself ; to live 
again. See the things of the world again, as thou hast 
already seen them. For what is it else to live again ? 
Public shows and solemnities with much pomp and 
vanity, stage plays, flocks and herds ; conflicts and con- 

His Meditations ;3 

tentions : a bone thrown to a company of hungry curs ; 
a bait for greedy fishes ; the painfulness, and continual 
burden-bearing of wretched ants, the running to and fro 
of terrified mice : little puppets drawn up and down with 
wires and nerves : these be the objects of the world. 
Among all these thou must stand steadfast, meekly 
affected, and free from all manner of indignation ; with 
this right ratiocination and apprehension ; that as the 
worth is of those things which a man doth affect, so is in 
very deed every man s worth more or less. 

IV. Word after word, every one by itself, must the 
things that are spoken be conceived and understood ; 
and so the things that are done, purpose after purpose, 
every one by itself likewise. And as in matter of pur 
poses and actions, we must presently see what is the 
proper use and relation of every one ; so of words must 
we be as ready, to consider of every one what is the 
true meaning, and signification of it according to truth 
and nature, however it be taken in common use. 

V. Is my reason, and understanding sufficient for this, 
or no ? If it be sufficient, without any private applause, 
or public ostentation as of an instrument, which by 
nature I am provided of, I will make use of it for the 
work in hand, as of an instrument, which by nature I 
am provided of. If it be not, and that otherwise it 
belong not unto me particularly as a private duty, I will 
either give it over, and leave it to some other that can 
better effect it : or I will endeavour it ; but with the help 
of some other, who with the joint help of my reason, is 
able to bring somewhat to pass, that will now be season 
able and useful for the common good. For whatsoever 
I do either by myself, or with some other, the only thing 
that I must intend, is, that it be good and expedient for 
the public. For as for praise, consider how many who 
once were much commended, are now already quite 
forgotten, yea they that commended them, how even 
they themselves are long since dead and gone. Be not 
therefore ashamed, whensoever thou must use the help 
of others. For whatsoever it be that lieth upon thee to 
effect, thou must propose it unto thyself, as the scaling 

74 Marcus Aurelius 

of walls is unto a soldier. And what if thou through 
either lameness or some other impediment art not able 
to reach unto the top of the battlements alone, which 
with the help of another thou mayst : wilt thou therefore 
give it over, or go about it with less courage and alacrity, 
because thou canst not effect it all alone ? 

VI. Let not things future trouble thee. For if neces 
sity so require that they come to pass, thou shalt (when 
soever that is) be provided for them with the same 
reason, by which whatsoever is now present, is made 
both tolerable and acceptable unto thee. All things 
are linked and knitted together, and the knot is sacred, 
neither is there anything in the world, that is not kind 
and natural in regard of any other thing, or, that hath 
not some kind of reference and natural correspondence 
with whatsoever is in the world besides. For all things 
are ranked together, and by decency of its due 
place and order that each particular doth observe, they 
all concur together to the making of one and the same 
KOO-/ZOS or world : as if you said, a comely piece, or an 
orderly composition. For all things throughout, there 
is but one and the same order ; and through all things, 
one and the same God, the same substance and the 
same law. There is one common reason, and one com 
mon truth, that belongs unto all reasonable creatures, 
for neither is there save one perfection of all creatures 
that are of the same kind, and partakers of the same 

VII. Whatsoever is material, doth soon vanish away 
into the common substance of the whole ; and whatso 
ever is formal, or, whatsoever doth animate that which 
is material, is soon resumed into the common reason of 
the whole ; and the fame and memory of anything, is 
soon swallowed up by the general age and duration of 
the whole. 

VIII. To a reasonable creature, the same action is 
both according to nature, and according to reason. 

IX. Straight of itself, not made straight. 

X. As several members in one body united, so are 
reasonable creatures in a body divided and dispersed, 

His Meditations 75 

all made and prepared for one common operation. And 
this thou shalt apprehend the better, if thou shalt use 
thyself often to say to thyself, I am /*eAos, or a member 
of the mass and body of reasonable substances. But if 
thou shalt say I am p-epos, or a part, thou dost not yet 
love men from thy heart. The joy that thou takest in 
the exercise of bounty, is not yet grounded upon a due 
ratiocination and right apprehension t>f the nature of 
things. Thou dost exercise it as yet upon this ground 
barely, as a thing convenient and fitting ; not, as doing 
good to thyself, when thou dost good unto others. 

XI. Of things that are external, happen what will to 
that which can suffer by external accidents. Those 
things that suffer let them complain themselves, if they 
will ; as for me, as long as I conceive no such thing, 
that that which is happened is evil, I have no hurt ; and 
it is in my power not to conceive any such thing. 

XII. Whatsoever any man either doth or saith, thou 
must be good ; not for any man s sake, but for thine 
own nature s sake ; as if either gold, or the emerald, or 
purple, should ever be saying to themselves, Whatsoever 
any man either doth or saith, I must still be an emerald, 
and I must keep my colour. 

XIII. This may ever be my comfort and security: my 
understanding, that ruleth over all, will not of itself bring 
trouble and vexation upon itself. This I say ; it will 
not put itself in any fear, it will not lead itself into any 
concupiscence. If it be in the power of any other to 
compel it to fear, or to grieve, it is free for him to use his 
power. But sure if itself do not of itself, through some 
false opinion or supposition incline itself to any such 
disposition ; there is no fear. For as for the body, why 
should I make the grief of my body, to be the grief of 
my mind ? If that itself can either fear or complain, let 
it. But as for the soul, which indeed, can only be truly 
sensible of either fear or grief; to which only it belongs 
according to its different imaginations and opinions, to 
admit of either of these, or of their contraries; thou 
mayst look to that thyself, that it suffer nothing. Induce 
her not to any such opinion or persuasion. The under- 

7 6 

Marcus Aurelius 

standing is of itself sufficient unto itself, and needs not 
(if itself doth not bring itself to need) any other thing 
besides itself, and by consequent as it needs nothing, so 
neither can it be troubled or hindered by anything, if 
itself doth not trouble and hinder itself. 

XIV. What is tvSatjuovta, or happiness : but dya$os 
Sai/iwv, or, a good daemon, or spirit ? What then dost 
thou do here, O opinion? By the Gods I adjure thee, 
that thou get thee gone, as thou earnest : for I need 
thee not. Thou earnest indeed unto me according to 
thy ancient wonted manner. It is that, that all men 
have ever been subject unto. That thou earnest there 
fore I am not angry with thee, only begone, now that I 
have found thee what thou art 

XV. is any man so foolish as to fear change, to which 
all things that once were not owe their being? And 
what is it, that is more pleasing and more familiar to the 
nature of the universe ? How couldst thou thyself use 
thy ordinary hot baths, should not the wood that heateth 
them first be changed ? How couldst thou receive any 
nourishment from those things that thou hast eaten, if 
they should not be changed ? Can anything else almost 
(that is useful and profitable) be brought to pass without 
change ? How then dost not thou perceive, that for 
thee also, by death, to come to change, is a thing of the 
very same nature, and as necessary for the nature of the 
universe ? 

XVI. Through the substance of the universe, as 
through a torrent pass all particular bodies, being all 
of the same nature, and all joint workers with the 
universe itself, as in one of our bodies so many members 
among themselves. How many such as Chrysippus, how 
many such as Socrates, how many such as Epictetus, 
hath the age of the world long since swallowed up and 
devoured ? Let this, be it either men or businesses, 
that thou hast occasion to think of, to the end that thy 
thoughts be not distracted and thy mind too earnestly 
set upon anything, upon every such occasion presently 
come to thy mind. Of all my thoughts and cares, one 
only thing shall be the object, that I myself do nothing 

His Meditations 77 

which to the proper constitution of man, (either in regard 
of the thing itself, or in regard of the manner, or of the 
time of doing,) is contrary. The time when thou shalt 
have forgotten all things, is at hand. And that time 
also is at hand, wht n thou thyself shalt be forgotten by 
all. Whilst thou art, apply thyself to that especially 
which unto man as he is a man, is most proper and 
agreeable, and that is, for a man even to love them that 
transgress against him. This shall be, if at the same 
time that any such thing doth happen, thou call to mind, 
that they are thy kinsmen ; that it is through ignorance 
and against their wills that they sin ; and that within a 
very short while after, both thou and he shall be no 
more. But above all things, that he hath not done thee 
any hurt ; for that by him thy mind and understanding 
is not made worse or more vile than it was before. 

XVII. The nature of the universe, of the common 
substance of all things as it were of so much wax hath 
now perchance formed a horse ; and then, destroying 
that figure, hath new tempered and fashioned the matter 
of it into the form and substance of a tree : then that 
again into the form and substance of a man : and then 
that again into some other. Now every one of these 
doth subsist but for a very little while. As for disolu- 
tion, if it be no grievous thing to the chest or trunk, to 
be joined together ; why should it be more grievous to 
be put asunder? 

XVIII. An angry countenance is much against nature, 
and it is oftentimes the proper countenance of them that 
are at the point of death. But were it so, that all anger 
and passion were so thoroughly quenched in thee, that 
it were altogether impossible to kindle it any more, yet 
herein must not thou rest satisfied, but further endeavour 
by good consequence of true ratiocination, perfectly to 
conceive and understand, that all anger and passion is 
against reason. For if thou shalt not be sensible of 
thine innocence ; if that also shall be gone from thee, 
the comfort of a good conscience, that thou doest all 
things according to reason : what shouldest thou live any 
longer for? All things that now thou seest, are but for 

78 Marcus Aurelius 

a moment. That nature, by which all things in the 
world are administered, will soon bring change and 
alteration upon them, and then of their substances make 
other things like unto them : and then soon after others 
again of the matter and substance of these : that so by 
these means, the world may still appear fresh and new. 

XIX. Whensoever any man doth trespass against thee, 
presently consider with thyself what it was that he did 
suppose to be good, what to be evil, when he did tres 
pass. For this when thou knowest, thou wilt pity him ; 
thou wilt have no occasion either to wonder, or to be 
angry. For either thou thyself dost yet live in that error 
and ignorance, as that thou dost suppose either that very 
thing that he doth, or some other like worldly thing, to 
be good ; and so thou art hound to pardon him if he 
have done that which thou in the like case wouldst 
have done thyself. Or if so be that thou dost not any 
more suppose the same things to be good or evil, that 
he doth ; how canst thou but be gentle unto him that is 
in an error? 

XX. Fancy not to thyself things future, as though 
they were present : but of those that are present, take 
some aside, that thou takest most benefit of, and con 
sider of them particularly, how wonderfully thou wouldst 
want them, if they were not present. But take heed 
withal, lest that whilst thou dost settle thy contentment 
in things present, thou grow in time so to overprize 
them, as that the want of them (whensoever it shall so 
fall out) should be a trouble and a vexation unto thee. 
Wind up thyself into thyself. Such is the nature of thy 
reasonable commanding part, as that if it exercise 
justice, and have by that means tranquillity within itself, 
it doth rest fully satisfied with itself without any other 

XXI. Wipe off all opinion : stay the force and violence 
of unreasonable lu-ts and affections : circumscribe the 
present time : examine whatsoever it be that is happened, 
either to thyself or to another : divide all present ob 
jects, either in that which is formal or material : think 
of the last hour. That which thy neighbour hath com- 

His Meditations . 79 

mitted, where the guilt of it lieth, there let it rest. 
Examine in order whatsoever is spoken. Let thy mind 
penetrate, both into the effects, and into the causes. 
Rejoice thyself with true simplicity, and modesty ; and 
that all middle things between virtue and vice are in 
different unto thee. Finally, love mankind ; obey God. 

XXII. All things (saith he) are by certain order and 
appointment. And what if the elements only. . . . 
It will suffice to remember, that all things in general are 
by certain order and appointment : or if it be but few. 
. . . And as concerning death, that either dispersion, or 
the atoms, or annihilation, or extinction, or translation 
will ensue. And as concerning pain, that that which is 
intolerable is soon ended by death ; and that which 
holds long must needs be tolerable ; and that the mind 
in the meantime (which is all in all) may by way of 
interclusion, or interception, by stopping all manner of 
commerce and sympathy with the body, still retain its 
own tranquillity. Thy understanding is not made worse 
by it. As for those parts that suffer, let them, if they 
can, declare their grief themselves. As for praise and 
commendation, view their mind and understanding, what 
estate they are in ; what kind of things they fly, and 
what things they seek after : and that as in the seaside, 
whatsoever was before to be seen, is by the continual 
succession of new heaps of sand cast up one upon 
another, soon hid and covered ; so in this life, all 
former things by those which immediately succeed. 

XXIII. Out of Plato. He then whose mind is 
endowed with true magnanimity, who hath accustomed 
himself to the contemplation both of all times, and of 
all t: ings in general ; can this mortal life (thinkest thou) 
seem any great matter unto him ? It is not possible, 
answered he. Then neither will such a one account 
death a grievous thing ? By no means. 

XXIV. Out of Antisthenes. It is a princely thing 
to do well, and to be ill-spoken of. It is a shameful 
thing that the face should be subject unto the mind, 
to be put into what shape it will, and to be dressed by 
it as it will ; and that the mind should not bestow so 

8o Marcus Aurelius 

much care upon herself, as to fashion herself, and to 
dress herself as best becometh her. 

XXV. Out of several poets and comics. It will but 
little avail thee, to turn thine anger and indignation upon 
the things themselves that have fallen across unto thee. 
For as for them, they are not sensible of it, &c. Thou 
shalt but make thyself a laughing-stock ; both unto the 
Gods and men, &c. Our life is reaped like a ripe ear of 
corn ; one is yet standing and another is down, &c. But 
if so be that I and my children be neglected by the 
gods, there is some reason even for that, &c. As long 
as right and equity is of my side, &c. Not to lament 
with them, not to tremble, &c. 

XXVI. Out of Plato. My answer, full of justice 
and equity, should be this : Thy speech is not right, 
O man ! if thou supposest that he that is of any worth 
at all, should apprehend either life or death, as a matter 
of great hazard and danger ; and should not make this 
rather his only care, to examine his own actions, whether 
just or unjust : whether actions of a good, or of a wicked 
man, &c. For thus in very truth stands the case, O ye 
men of Athens. What place or station soever a man 
either hath chosen to himself, judging it best for himself; 
or is by lawful authority put and settled in, therein do I 
think (all appearance of danger notwithstanding) that he 
should continue, as one who feareth neither death, nor 
anything else, so much as he feareth to commit anything 
that is vicious and shameful, &c. But, O noble sir, 
consider I pray, whether true generosity and true happi 
ness, do not consist in somewhat else rather, than in the 
preservation either of our, or other men s lives. For it 
is not the part of a man that is a man indeed, to desire 
to live long or to make much of his life whilst he liveth : 
but rather (he that is such) will in these things wholly 
refer himself unto the Gods, and believing that which 
every woman can tell him, that no man can escape death ; 
the only thing that he takes thought and care for is this, 
that what time he liveth, he may live as well and as 
virtuously as he can possibly, &r. To look about, and 
with the eyes to follow the course of the stars and planets, 

His Meditations 81 

as though them wouldst run with them ; and to mind 
perpetually the several changes of the elements one into 
another. For such fancies and imaginations, help much 
to purge away the dross and filth of this our earthly 
life, &c. That also is a fine passage of Plato s, where 
he speaketh of worldly things in these words : Thou 
must also as from some higher place look down, as it 
were, upon the things of this world, as flocks, armies, 
husbandmen s labours, marriages, divorces, generations, 
deaths : the tumults of courts and places of judicatures ; 
desert places ; the several nations of barbarians, public 
festivals, mournings, fairs, markets. How all things 
upon earth are pell-mell ; and how miraculously things 
contrary one to another, concur to the beauty and per 
fection of this universe. 

XXVII. To look back upon things of former ages, 
as upon the manifold changes and conversions of several 
monarchies and commonwealths. We may also foresee 
things future, for they shall all be of the same kind ; 
neither is it possible that they should leave the tune, or 
break the concert that is now begun, as it were, by these 
things that are now done and brought to pass in the 
world. It comes all to one therefore, whether a man be 
a spectator of the things of this life but forty years, or 
whether he see them ten thousand years together : for 
what shall he see more ? And as for those parts that 
came from the earth, they shall return unto the earth 
again ; and those that came from heaven, they also shall 
return unto those heavenly places. Whether it be a 
mere dissolution and unbinding of the manifold in 
tricacies and entanglements of the confused atoms ; or 
some such dispersion of the simple and incorruptible 
elements . . . With meats and drinks and divers 
charms, they seek to divert the channel, that they might 
not die. Yet must we needs endure that blast of wind 
that cometh from above, though we toil and labour 
never so much. 

XXVIII. He hath a stronger body, and is a better 
wrestler than I. What then ? Is he more bountiful ? 
is he more modest ? Doth he bear all adverse chances 

82 Marcus Aurelius 

with more equanimity . or with his neighbour s offences 
with more meekness and gentleness than I ? 

XXIX. Where the matter may be effected agreeably 
to that reason, which both unto the Gods and men is 
common, there can be no just cause of grief or sorrow. 
For where the fruit and benefit of an action well betrun 


and prosecuted according to the proper constitution of 
man may be reaped and obtained, or is sure and certain, 
it is against reason that any damage should there be 
suspected. In all places, and at all times, it is in thy 
power religiously to embrace whatsoever by God s 
a, .pointment is happened unto thee, and justly to con 
verse with those men, whom thou hast to do with ; and 
accurately to examine every fancy that presents itself, 
that nothing may slip and steal in, before thou hast 
rightly apprehended the true nature of it. 

XXX. Look not about upon other men s minds and 
understandings , but look right on forwards whither 
nature, both that of the universe, in those things that 
happen unto thee ; and thine in particular, in those 
things that are done by thee doth lead, ard direct thee. 
Now every one is bound to do that, which is consequent 
and agreeable to that end which by his true natural 
constitution he was ordained unto. As for all other 
things, they are ordained for the use of reasonable 
creatures : as in all things we see that that which is 
worse and inferior is made for that which is better. 
Reasonable creatures, they are ordained one for another. 
That therefore which is chief in every man s constitution, 
is, that he intend the common good. The second is, 
that he yield not to any lusts and motions of the flesh. 
For it is the part and privilege of the reasonable and 
intellective faculty, that she can so bound herself, as 
that neither the sensitive, nor the appetitive faculties, 
may not anyways prevail upon her. For both these are 
brutish. And therefore over both she challengeth 
mastery, and cannot anyways endure, if in her right 
temper, to be subject unto either. And this indeed 
most justly. For by nature she was ordained to com 
mand all in the body. The third thing proper to man 

His Meditations 83 

by his constitution, is, to avoid all rashness and pre 
cipitancy ; and not to be subject to error. To these 
things then, let the mind apply herself and go straight 
on, without any distraction about other things, and she 
hath her end, and by consequent her happiness. 

XXXI. As one who had lived, and were now to die 
by right, whatsoever is yet remaining, bestow that wholly 
as a gracious overplus upon a virtuous life. Love and 
affect that only, whatsoever it be that happeneth, and is 
by the fates appointed unto thee. For what can be 
more reasonable ? And as anything doth happen unto 
thee by way of cross, or calamity, call to mind presently 
and set before thine eyes, the examples of some other 
men, to whom the self-same thing did once happen 
likewise. Well, what did they? They grieved; they 
wondered ; they complained. And where are they 
now ? All dead and gone. Wilt thou also be like one 
of them ? Or rather leaving to men of the world (whose 
life both in regard of themselves, and them that they 
converse with, is nothing but mere mutability ; or men 
of as fickle minds, as fickle bodies ; ever changing and 
soon changed themselves : let it be thine only care and 
study, how to make a right use of all such accidents. 
For there is good use to be made of them, and they 
will prove fit matter for thee to work upon, if it shall be 
both thy care and thy desire, that whatsoever thou doest, 
thou thyself mayst like and approve thyself for it. And 
both these, see, that thou remember well, according as 
the diversity of the matter of the action that thou art 
about shall require. Look within ; within is the fountain 
of all good. Such a fountain, where springing waters 
can never fail, so thou dig still deeper and deeper. 

XXXII. Thou must use thyself also to keep thy body 
fixed and steady ; free from all loose fluctuant either 
motion, or posture. And as upon thy face and looks, 
thy mind hath easily power over them to keep them to 
that which is grave and decent ; so let it challenge the 
same power over the whole body also. But so observe 
all things in this kind, as that it be without any manner 
of affectation. 

8 4 

Marcus Aurelius 

XXXIII. The art of true living in this world is more 
like a wrestler s, than a dancer s practice. For in this 
they both agree, to teach a man whatsoever falls upon 
him, that he may be ready for it, and that nothing may 
cast him down. 

XXXIV. Thou must continually ponder and consider 
with thyself, what manner of men they be, and for their 
minds and understandings what is their present estate, 
whose good word and testimony thou dost desire. For 
then neither wilt thou see cause to complain of them 
that offend against their wills ; or find any want of their 
applause, if once thou dost but penetrate into the true 
force and ground both of their opinions, and of their 
desires. No soul (saith he) is willingly bereft of the 
truth, and by consequent, neither of justice, or tem 
perance, or kindness, and mildness ; nor of anything 
that is of the same kind. It is most needful that thou 
shouldst always remember this. For so shall thou be 
far more gentle and moderate towards all men. 

XXXV. What pain soever thou art in, let this pre 
sently come to thy mind, that it is not a thing whereof 
thou needest to be ashamed, neither is it a thing whereby 
thy understanding, that hath the government of all, can 
oe made worse. For neither in regard of the substance 
of it, nor in regard of the end of it (which is, to intend 
the common good) can it alter and corrupt it. This 
also of Epicurus mayst thou in most pains find some 
help of, that it is neither intolerable, nor eternal ; so 
thou keep thyself to the true bounds and limits of reason 
and give not way to opinion. This also thou must 
consider, that many things there be, which oftentimes 
unsensibly trouble and vex thee, as not armed against 
them with patience, because they go not ordinarily 
under the name of pains, which in very deed are of the 
same nature as pain : as to slumber unquietly, to suffer 
heat, to want appetite : when therefore any of these 
things make thee discontented, check tuyself with these 
words : Now hath pain given thee the toil ; thy courage 
hath failed thee. 

XXXVI. Take heed lest at any time thou stand so 

His Meditations 85 

affected, though towards unnatural evil men, as ordinary 
men are commonly one towards another. 

XXXVII. How know we whether Socrates were so 
eminent indeed, and of so extraordinary a disposition ? 
For that he died more gloriously, that he disputed with 
the Sophists more subtilly ; that he watched in the frost 
more assiduously ; that being commanded to fetch 
innocent Salaminius, he refused to do it more generously ; 
all this will not serve. Nor that he walked in the 
streets, with much gravity and majesty, as was objected 
unto him by his adversaries : which nevertheless a man 
may well doubt of, whether it were so or no, or, which 
above all the rest, if so be that it were true, a man 
would well consider of, whether commendable, or dis 
commendable. The thing therefore that we must 
inquire into, is this ; what manner of soul Socrates had : 
whether his disposition was such ; as that all that he 
stood upon, and sought after in this world, was barely 
this, that he might ever carry himself justly towards 
men, and holily towards the Gods. Neither vexing 
himself to no purpose at the wickedness of others, nor 
yet ever condescending to any man s evil fact, or evil 
intentions, through either fear, or engagement of friend 
ship. Whether of those things that happened unto 
him by God s appointment, he neither did wonder at 
any when it did happen, or thought it intolerable in 
the trial of it. And lastly, whether he never did suffer 
his mind to sympathise with the senses, and affections 
of the body. For we must not think that Nature hath 
so mixed and tempered it with the body, as that she 
hath not power to circumscribe herself, and by herself 
to intend her own ends and occasions. 

XXXVIII. For it is a thing very possible, that a man 
should be a very divine man, and yet be altogether un 
known. This thou must ever be mindful of, as of this 
also, that a man s true happiness doth consist in very 
few things. And that although thou dost despair, that 
thou shall ever be a good either logician, or naturalist, 
yet thou art never the further off by it from being either 
liberal, or modest, or charitable, or obedient unto God. 

86 Marcus Aurelius 

XXXIX. Free from all compulsion in all cheerfulness 
and alacrity thou mayst run out thy time, though men 
should exclaim against thee never so much, and the 
wild beasts should pull in sunder the poor members of 
thy pampered mass of flesh. For what in either of these 
or the like cases should hinder the mind to retain her 
own rest and tranquillity, consisting both in the right 
judgment of those things that happen unto her, and in 
the ready use of all present matters and occasions ? So 
that her judgment may say, to that which is befallen her 
by way of cross : this thou art in very deed, and accord 
ing to thy true nature : notwithstanding that in the 
judgment of opinion thou dost appear otherwise : and 
her discretion to the present object : thou art that, 
which I sought for. For whatsoever it be, that is now 
present, shall ever be embraced by me as a fit and 
seasonable object, both for my reasonable faculty, and 
for my sociable, or charitable inclination to work upon. 
And that which is principal in this matter, is that it may 
be referred either unto the praise of God, or to the good 
of men. For either unto God or man, whatsoever it is 
that doth happen in the world hath in the ordinary 
course of nature its proper reference ; neither is there 
anything, that in regard of nature is either new, or 
reluctant and intractable, but all things both usual and 

XL. Then hath a man attained to the estate of per 
fection in his life and conversation, when he so spends 
every day, as if it were his last day : never hot and 
vehement in his affections, nor yet so cold and stupid as 
one that had no sense ; and free from all manner of 

XLI. Can the Gods, who are immortal, for the con 
tinuance of so many ages bear without indignation with 
such and so many sinners, as have ever been, yea not 
only so, but also take such care for them, that they want 
nothing ; and dost thou so grievously take on, as one 
that could bear with them no longer ; thou that art but 
for a moment of time ? yea thou that art one of those 
sinners thyself? A very ridiculous thing it is, that any 

His Meditations 87 

man should dispense with vice and wickedness in him 
self, which is in his power to restrain ; and should go 
about to suppress it in others, which is altogether im 

XLII. What object soever, our reasonable and soci 
able faculty doth meet with, that affords nothing either 
for the satisfaction of reason, or for the practice of 
charity, she worthily doth think unworthy of herself. 

XLIII. When thou hast done well, and another is 
benefited by thy action, must thou like a very fool look 
for a third thing besides, as that it may appear unto 
others also that thou hast done well, or that thou mayest 
in time, receive one good turn for another? No man 
useth to be weary of that which is beneficial unto him. 
But every action according to nature, is beneficial. Be 
not weary then of doing that which is beneficial unto 
thee, whilst it is so unto others. 

XLIV. The nature of the universe did once certainly 
before it was created, whatsoever it hath done since, 
deliberate and so resolve upon the creation of the world. 
Now since that time, whatsoever it is, that is and happens 
in the world, is either but a consequent of that one and 
first deliberation : or if so be that this ruling rational 
part of the world, takes any thought and care of things 
particular, they are surely his reasonable and principal 
creatures, that are the proper object of his particular 
care and providence. This often thought upon, will 
much conduce to thy tranquillity. 

Marcus Aurelius 


I. This also, among other things, may serve to keep 
thee from vainglory ; if thou shalt consider, that thou art 
now altogether incapable of the commendation of one, 
who all his life long, or from his youth at least, hath 
lived a philosopher s life. For both unto others, and to 
thyself especially, it is well known, that thou hast done 
many things contrary to that perfection of life. Thou 
hast therefore been confounded in thy course, and hence 
forth it will be hard for thee to recover the title and 
credit of a philosopher. And to it also is thy calling 
and profession repugnant. If therefore thou dost truly 
understand, what it is that is of moment indeed ; as for 
thy fame and credit, take no thought or care for that : 
let it suffice thee if all the rest of thy life, be it more or 
less, thou shalt live as thy nature requireth, or accord 
ing to the true and natural end of thy making. Take 
pains therefore to know what it is that thy nature re 
quireth, and let nothing else distract thee. Thou hast 
already had sufficient experience, that of those many 
things that hitherto thou hast erred and wandered about, 
thou couldst not find happiness in any of them. Not in 
syllogisms, and logical subtilties, not in wealth, not in 
honour and reputation, not in pleasure. In none of all 
these. Wherein then is it to be found ? In the practice 
of those things, which the nature of man, as he is a man, 
doth require. How then shall he do those things ? If 
his dogmata, or moral tenets and opinions (from which 
all motions and actions do proceed), be right and true. 
Which be those dogmata? Those that concern that 
which is good or evil, as that there is nothing truly good 
and beneficial unto man, but that which makes him just, 
temperate, courageous, liberal ; and that there is nothing 

His Meditations 89 

truly evil and hurtful unto man, but that which causeth 
the contrary effects. 

II. Upon every action that thou art about, put this 
question to thyself; How will this when it is done agree 
with me ? Shall I have no occasion to repent of it ? 
Yet a very little while and I am dead and gone ; and all 
things are at end. What then do I care for more 
than this, that my present action whatsoever it be, may 
be the proper action of one that is reasonable ; whose 
end is, the common good ; who in all things is ruled 
and governed by the same law of right and reason, by 
which God Himself is. 

III. Alexander, Caius, Pompeius ; what are these to 
Diogenes, Heraclitus, and Socrates? These penetrated 
into the true nature of things ; into all causes, and all 
subjects : and upon these did they exercise their power 
and authority. But as for those, as the extent of their 
error was, so far did their slavery extend. 

IV. What they have done, they will still do, although 
thou shouldst hang thyself. First ; let it not trouble 
thee. For all things both good and evil : come to pass 
according to the nature and general condition of the 
universe, and within a very little while, all things will 
be at an end ; no man will be remembered : as now of 
Africanus (for example) and Augustus it is already come 
to pass. Then secondly, fix thy mind upon the thing 
itself; look into it, and remembering thyself, that thou 
art bound nevertheless to be a good man. and what it is 
that thy nature requireth of thee as thou art a man, be 
not diverted from what thou art about, and speak that 
which seemeth unto thee most just : only speak it kindly, 
modestly, and without hypocrisy. 

V. That which the nature of the universe doth busy 
herself about, is; that which is here, to transfer it 
thither, to change it, and thence again to take it away, 
and to carry it to another place. So that thou needest 
not fear any new thing. For all things are usual and 
ordinary ; and all things are disposed by equality. 

VI. Every particular nature hath content, when in its 
own proper course ; .t speeds. A reasonable nature doth 

90 Marcus Aurelius 

then speed, when first in matter of fancies and imagina 
tions, it gives no consent to that which is either false or 
uncertain. Secondly, when in all its motions and resolu 
tions it takes its level at the common good only, and 
that it desireth nothing, and flieth from nothing, but 
what is in its own power to compass or avoid. And 
lastly, when it willingly and gladly embraceth, whatso 
ever is dealt and appointed unto it by the common 
nature. For it is part of it ; even as the nature of any 
one leaf, is part of the common nature of all plants and 
trees. But that the nature of a leaf, is part of a nature 
both unreasonable and unsensible, and which in its 
proper end may be hindered ; or, which is servile and 
slavish : whereas the nature of man is part of a common 
nature which cannot be hindered, and which is both 
reasonable and just. From whence also it is, that accord 
ing to the worth of everything, she doth make such 
equal distribution of all things, as of duration, substance, 
form, operation, and of events and accidents. But 
herein consider not whether thou shalt find this equality 
in everything absolutely and by itself; but whether in 
all the particulars of some one thing taken together, and 
compared with all the particulars of some other thing, 
and them together likewise. 

VII. Thou hast no time nor opportunity to read. 
What then ? Hast thou not time and opportunity to 
exercise thyself, not to wrong thyself; to strive against 
all carnal pleasures and pains, and to get the upper hand 
of them ; to contemn honour and vainglory ; and not 
only, not to be angry with them, whom towards thee 
thou doest find unsensible and unthankful ; but also to 
have a care of them still, and of their welfare ? 

VIII. Forbear henceforth to complain of the troubles 
of a courtly life, either in public before others, or in 
private by thyself. 

IX. Repentance is an inward and self-reprehension 
for the neglect or omission of somewhat that was pro 
fitable. Now whatsoever is good, is also profitable, and 
it is the part of an honest virtuous man to set by it, and 
to make reckoning of it accordingly. But never did any 

His Meditations 91 

honest virtuous man repent of the neglect or omission 
of any carnal pleasure : no carnal pleasure then is either 
good or profitable. 

X. This, what is it in itself, and by itself, according 
to its proper constitution? What is the substance of 
it? What is the matter, or proper use? What is the 
form or efficient cause ? What is it for in this world, 
and how long will it abide ? Thus must thou examine 
all things, that present themselves unto thee. 

XI. When thou art hard to be stirred up and awaked 
out of thy sleep, admonish thyself and call to mind, that, 
to perform actions tending to the common good is that 
which thine own proper constitution, and that which 
the nature of man do require. But to sleep, is common 
to unreasonable creatures also. And what more proper 
and natural, yea what more kind and pleasing, than that 
which is according to nature ? 

XII. As every fancy and imagination presents itself 
unto thee, consider (if it be possible) the true nature, 
and the proper qualities of it, and reason with thyself 
about it. 

XIII. At thy first encounter with any one, say presently 
to thyself: This man, what are his opinions concerning 
that which is good or evil ? as concerning pain, pleasure, 
and the causes of both ; concerning honour, and dis 
honour, concerning life and death ? thus and thus. Now 
if it be no wonder that a man should have such and 
such opinions, how can it be a wonder that he should do 
such and such things ? I will remember then, that he 
cannot but do as he doth, holding those opinions that he 
doth. Remember, that as it is a shame for any man to 
wonder that a fig tree should bear figs, so also to wonder 
that the world should bear anything, whatsoever it is 
which in the ordinary course of nature it may bear. To 
a physician also and to a pilot it is a shame either for the 
one to wonder, that such and such a one should have 
an ague ; or for the other, that the winds should prove 

XIV. Remember, that to change thy mind upon occa 
sion, and to follow him that is able to rectify thee, is equally 

92 Marcus Aurelius 

ingenuous, as to find out at the first, what is right and 
just, without help. For of thee nothing is required, that 
is beyond the extent of thine own deliberation and judg 
ment, and of thine own understanding. 

XV. If it were thine act and in thine own power, why 
wouldest thou do it ? If it were not, whom dost thou 
accuse ? the atoms, or the Gods ? For to do either, is 
the part of a mad man. Thou must therefore blame 
nobody, but if it be in thy power, redress what is amiss ; 
if it be not, to what end is it to complain ? For nothing 
should be done but to some certain end. 

XVI. Whatsoever dieth and falleth, however and where 
soever it die and fall, it cannot fall out of the world. If 
here it have its abode and change, here also shall it have 
its dissolution into its proper elements. The same are 
the world s elements, and the elements of which thou 
dost consist. And they when they are changed, they 
murmur not ; why shouldest thou ? 

XVII. Whatsoever is, was made for something : as a 
horse, a vine. Why wonderest thou ? The sun itself 
will say of itself, I was made for something ; and so hath 
every god its proper function. What then were thou 
made for ? to disport and delight thyself? See how even 
common sense and reason cannot brook it. 

XVIII. Nature hath its end as well in the end and 
final consummation of anything that is, as in the begin 
ning and continuation of it. 

XIX. As one that tosseth up a ball. And what is a 
ball the better, if the motion of it be upwards ; or the 
worse if it be downwards ; or if it chance to fall upon 
the ground ? So for the bubble ; if it continue, what is 
it the better ? and if it dissolve, what is it the worse ? 
And so is it of a candle too. And so must thou reason 
with thyself, both in matter of fame, and in matter of 
death. For as for the body itself, (the subject of death) 
wouldest thou know the vileness of it? Turn it about, 
that thou mayest behold it the worst sides upwards as 
well, as in its more ordinary pleasant shape; how doth 
it look, when it is old and withered ? when sick and 
pained ? when in the act of lust, and fornication ? And as 

His Meditations 93 

for fame. This life is short. Both he that praiseth, and 
he that is praised ; he that remembers, and he that is 
remembered, will soon be dust and ashes. Besides, it is 
but in one corner of this part of the world that thou art 
praised ; and yet in this corner, thou hast not the joint 
praises of all men ; no nor scarce of any one constantly. 
And yet the whole earth itself, what is it but as one 
point, in regard of the whole world ? 

XX. That which must be the subject of thy considera 
tion, is either the matter itself, or the dogma, or the opera 
tion, or the true sense and signification. 

XXI. Most justly have these things happened unto 
thee : why dost not thou amend ? O but thou hadst 
rather become good to-morrow, than to be so to-day. 

XXII. Shall I do it ? I will ; so the end of my action 
be to do good unto men. Doth anything by way of cross 
or adversity happen unto me ? I accept it, with reference 
unto the Gods, and their providence ; the fountain of all 
things, from which whatsoever comes to pass, doth hang 
and depend. 

XXIII. By one action judge of the rest : this bathing 
which usually takes up so much of our time, what is it ? 
Oil, sweat, filth ; or the sordes of the body : an excre- 
mentitious viscosity, the excrements of oil and other 
ointments used about the body, and mixed with the 
sordes of the body : all base and loathsome. And such 
almost is every part of our life ; and every worldly object. 

XXIV. Lucilla buried Verus ; then was Lucilla her 
self buried by others. So Secunda Maximus, then 
Secunda herself. So Epitynchanus, Diotimus ; then 
Epitynchanus himself. So Antoninus Pius, Faustina his 
wife ; then Antoninus himself. This is the course of 
the world. First Celer, Adrianus ; then Adrianus him 
self. And those austere ones ; those that foretold other 
men s deaths ; those that were so proud and stately, 
where are they now ? Those austere ones I mean, such 
as were Charax, and Demetrius the Platonic, and 
Eudcemon, and others like unto those. They were all 
but for one day ; all dead and gone long since. Some 
of them no sooner dead, than forgotten. Others soon 

94 Marcus Aurelius 

turned into fables. Of others, even that which was 
fabulous, is now long since forgotten. This therefore 
thou must remember, that whatsoever thou art com 
pounded of, shall soon be dispersed, and that thy life 
and breath, or thy soul, shall either be no more, or shall be 
translated, and appointed to some certain place and station. 

XXV. The true joy of a man, is to do that which 
properly belongs unto a man. That which is most proper 
unto a man, is, first, to be kindly affected towards them, 
that are of the same kind and nature as he is himself ; to 
contemn all sensual motions and appetites ; to discern 
rightly all plausible fancies and imaginations, to con 
template the nature of the universe ; both it, and all 
things that are done in it. In which kind of con 
templation three several relations are to be observed. 
The first, to the apparent secondary cause. The second, 
to the first original cause, God, from whom originally 
proceeds whatsoever doth happen in the world. The 
third and last, to them that we live and converse with : 
what use may be made of it, to their use and benefit. 

XXVI. If pain be an evil, either it is in regard of the 
body ; (and that cannot be, because the body of itself is 
altogether insensible :) or in regard of the soul. But it 
is in the power of the soul, to preserve her own peace 
and tranquillity, and not to suppose that pain is evil. 
For all judgment and deliberation ; all prosecution, or 
aversation is from within, whither the sense of evil (except 
it be let in by opinion) cannot penetrate. 

XXVII. Wipe off all idle fancies, and say unto thyself 
incessantly ; Now if I will, it is in my power to keep out 
of this my soul all wickedness, all lust, and concupis 
cences, all trouble and confusion. But on the contrary, 
to behold and consider all things according to their true 
nature, and to carry myself towards everything according 
to its true worth. Remember then this thy power, that 
nature hath given thee. 

XXVIII. Whether thou speak in the Senate, or 
whether thou speak to any particular, let thy speech be 
always grave and modest. But thou must not openly 
and vulgarly observe that sound and exact form of 

His Meditations 95 

speaking, concerning that which is truly good and truly 
evil ; the vanity of the world, and of worldly men : which 
otherwise truth and reason doth prescribe. 

XXIX. Augustus his court; his wife, his daughter, 
his nephews, his sons-in-law ; his sister, Agrippa, his 
kinsmen, his domestics, his friends; Areus, Maecenas, 
his slayers of beasts for sacrifice and divination : there 
thou hast the death of a whole court together. Proceed 
now on to the rest that have been since that of Augustus. 
Hath death dwelt with them otherwise, though so many 
and so stately whilst they lived, than it doth use to 
deal with any one particular man ? Consider now the 
death of a whole kindred and family, as of that of the 
Pompeys, as that also that useth to be written upon 
some monuments, HE WAS THE LAST OF HIS OWN 
KINDRED. O what care did his predecessors take, that 
they might leave a successor, yet behold ! at last one or 
other must of necessity be THE LAST. Here again there 
fore consider the death of a whole kindred. 

XXX. Contract thy whole life to the measure and 
proportion of one single action. And if in every par 
ticular action thou dost perform what is fitting to the 
utmost of thy power, let it suffice thee. And who can 
hinder thee, but that thou mayest perform what is fitting ? 
But there may be some outward let and impediment. 
Not any, that can hinder thee, but that whatsoever thou 
dost, *hou may do it, justly, temperately, and with the 
praise of God. Yea, but there may be somewhat, 
whereby some operation or other of thine may be 
hindered. And then, with that very thing that doth 
hinder, thou mayest be well pleased, and so by this 
gentle and equanimous conversion of thy mind unto 
that which may be, instead of that which at first thou 
didst intend, in the room of that former action there 
succeedeth another, which agrees as well with this con 
traction of thy life, that we now speak of. 

XXXI. Receive temporal blessings without osten 
tation, when they are sent ; and thou shalt be able to 
part with them with all readiness and facility when they 
are taken from thee again. 

96 Marcus Aurelius 

XXXII. If ever thou sawest either a hand, or a foot, 
or a head lying by itself, in some place or other, as cut 
off from the rest of the body, such must thou conceive 
him to make himself, as much as in him lieth, that either 
is offended with anything that is happened, (whatsoever 
it be) and as it were divides himself from it : or that 
commits anything against the natural law of mutual 
correspondence, and society among men : or, he that 
commits any act of uncharitableness. Whosoever thou 
art, thou art such, thou art cast forth I know not whither 
out of the general unity, which is according to nature. 
Thou wert born indeed a part, but now thou hast cut 
thyself off. However, herein is matter of joy and exul 
tation, that thou mayst be united again. God hath not 
granted it unto any other part, that once separated and 
cut off, it might be reunited, and come together again. 
But, behold, that GOODNESS how great and immense it 
is ! which hath so much esteemed MAN. As at first he 
was so made, that he needed not, except he would 
himself, have divided himself from the whole ; so once 
divided and cut off, IT hath so provided and ordered it, 
that if he would himself, he might return, and grow 
together again, and be admitted into its former rank and 
place of a part, as he was before. 

XXXIII. As almost all her other faculties and pro 
perties the nature of the universe hath imparted unto 
every reasonable creature, so this in particular we have 
received from her, that as whatsoever doth oppose itself 
unto her, and doth withstand her in her purposes and 
intentions, she doth, though against its will and intention, 
bring it about to herself, to serve herself of it in the 
execution of her own destinated ends ; and so by this 
though not intended co-operation of it with herself makes 
it part of herself whether it will or no. So may every 
reasonable creature, what crosses and impediments 
soever it meets with in the course of this mortal life, it 
may use them as fit and proper objects, to the further 
ance of whatsoever it intended and absolutely proposed 
unto itself as its natural end and happiness. 

XXXIV. Let not the general representation unto 

His Meditations 97 

thyself of the wretchedness of this our mortal life, trouble 
thee. Let not thy mind wander up and down, and heap 
together in her thoughts the many troubles and grievous 
calamities which thou art as subject unto as any other. 
But as everything in particular doth happen, put this 
question unto thyself, and say : What is it that in this 
present matter, seems unto thee so intolerable? For 
thou wilt be ashamed to confess it. Then upon this 
presently call to mind, that neither that which is future, 
nor that which is past can hurt thee ; but that only 
which is present. (And that also is much lessened, if 
thou dost ghtly circumscribe it:) and then check thy 
mind if for so little a while, (a mere instant), it cannot 
hold out with patience. 

XXXV. What? are either Panthea or Pergamus 
abiding to this day by their masters tombs ? or either 
Chabrias or Diotimus by that of Adrianus ? O foolery ! 
For what if they did, would their masters be sensible of 
it ? or if sensible, would they be glad of it ? or if glad, 
were these immortal ? Was not it appointed unto them 
also (both men and women,) to become old in time, and 
then to die ? And these once dead, what would become 
of these former ? And when all is done, what is all this 
for, but for a mere bag of blood and corruption ? 

XXXVI. If thou beest quick-sighted, be so in matter 
of judgment, and best discretion, saith he. 

XXXVII. In the whole constitution of man, I see 
not any virtue contrary to justice, whereby it may be 
resisted and opposed. But one whereby pleasure and 
voluptuousness may be resisted and opposed, I see : 

XXXVIII. If thou canst but withdraw conceit and 
opinion concerning that which may seem hurtful and 
offensive, thou thyself art as safe, as safe may be. Thou 
thyself? and who is that? Thy reason. Yea, but I 
am not reason. Well, be it so. However, let not thy 
reason or understanding admit of grief, and if there be 
anything in thee that is grieved, let that, (whatsoever it 
be,) conceive its own grief, if it can. 

XXXIX. That which is a hindrance of the senses, is 


9 8 

Marcus Aurelius 

an evil to the sensitive nature. That which is a hind 
rance of the appetitive and prosecutive faculty, is an evil 
to the sensitive nature. As of the sensitive, so of the 
vegetative constitution, whatsoever is a hindrance unto 
it, is also in that respect an evil unto the same. And 
so likewise, whatsoever is a hindrance unto the mind 
and understanding, must needs be the proper evil of the 
reasonable nature. Now apply all those things unto 
thyself. Do either pain or pleasure seize on thee? Let 
the senses look to that. Hast thou met with some 
obstacle or other in thy purpose and intention ? If thou 
didst propose without due reservation and exception, 
now hath thy reasonable part received a blow indeed. 
But if in general thou didst propose unto thyself what 
soever might be, thou art not thereby either hurt, nor 
properly hindered. For in those things that properly 
belong unto the mind, she cannot be hindered by any 
man. It is not fire, nor iron ; nor the power of a tyrant, 
nor the power of a slandering tongue ; nor anything else, 
that can penetrate into her. 

XL. If once round and solid, there is no fear that 
ever it will change. 

XLI. Why should I grieve myself; who never did 
willingly grieve any other ! One thing rejoices one, and 
another thing another. As for me, this is my joy; if 
my understanding be right and sound, as neither averse 
from any man, nor refusing any of those things, which 
as a man I am subject unto ; if I can look upon all 
things in the world meekly and kindly ; accept all things, 
and carry myself towards everything according to the 
true worth of the thing itself. 

XLII. This time that is now present, bestow thou 
upon thyself. They that rather hunt for fame after 
death, do not consider, that those men that shall be 
hereafter, will be even such, as these whom now they 
can so hardly bear with. And besides they also will be 
mortal men. But to consider the thing in itself, if so 
many with so many voices, shall make such and such 
a sound, or shall have such and such an opinion con 
cerning thee, what is it to thee? 

His Meditations 99 

XLIII. Take me and throw me where thou wilt : I 
am indifferent. For there also I shall have that spirit 
which is within me propitious; that is well pleased and 
fully contented both in that constant disposition, and 
with those particular actions, which to its own proper 
constitution are suitable and agreeable. 

XLIV. Is this then a thing of that worth, that for it 
my soul should suffer, and become worse than it was ? 
as either basely dejected, or disordinately affected, or 
confounded within itself, or terrified ? What can there 
be, that thou shouldest so much esteem ? 

Xl.V. Nothing can happen unto thee, which is not 
incidental unto thee, as thou art a man. As nothing 
can happen either to an ox, a vine, or to a stone, which 
is not incidental unto them ; unto every one in his own 
kind. If therefore nothing can happen unto anything, 
which is not both usual and natural; why art thou dis 
pleased? Sure the common nature of all would not 
bring anything upon any, that were intolerable. If there 
fore it be a thing external that causes thy grief, know, 
that it is not that properly that doth cause it, but thine 
own conceit and opinion concerning the thing : which 
thou mayest rid thyself of, when thou wilt. But if it 
be somewhat that is amiss in thine own disposition, that 
doth grieve thee, mayest thou not rectify thy moral 
tenets and opinions. But if it grieve thee, that thou 
doest not perform that which seemeth unto thee right 
and just, why doest not thou choose rather to perform 
it than to grieve ? But somewhat that is stronger than 
thyself doth hinder thee. Let it not grieve thee then, if 
it be not thy fault that the thing is not performed. Yea 
but it is a thing of that nature, as that thy life is not 
worth the while, except it may be performed. If it be 
so, upon condition that thou be kindly and lovingly dis 
posed towards all men, thou mayest be gone. For even 
then, as much as at any time, art thou in a very good 
estate of performance, when thou doest die in charity 
with those, that are an obstacle unto thy performance. 

XLVI. Remember that thy mind is of that nature as 
that it becometh altogether unconquerable, when once 

ioo Marcus Aurelius 

recollected in herself, she seeks no other content than 
this, that she cannot be forced : yea though it so fall 
out, that it be even against reason itself, that it doth 
bandy. How much less when by the help of reason 
she is able to judge of things with discretion ? And 
therefore let thy chief fort and place of defence be, a 
mind free from passions. A stronger place, (whereunto 
to make his refuge, and so to become impregnable) and 
better fortified than this, hath no man. He that seeth 
not this is unlearned. He that seeth it, and betaketh 
not himself to this place of refuge, is unhappy. 

XLVII. Keep tnyself to the first bare and naked 
apprehensions of things, as they present themselves 
unto thee, and add not unto them. It is reported unto 
thee, that such a one speaketh ill of thee. Well ; that 
he speaketh ill of thee, so much is reported. But that 
thou art hurt thereby, is not reported : that is the addi 
tion of opinion, which thou must exclude. I see that 
my child is sick. That he is sick, I see, but that he is 
in danger of his life also, I see it not. Thus thou must 
use to keep thyself to the first motions and apprehen 
sions of things, as they present themselves outwardly ; 
and add not unto them from within thyself through 
mere conceit and opinion. Or rather add unto them ; 
but as one that understandeth the true nature of all 
things that happen in the world. 

XLVIII. Is the cucumber bitter? set it away. 
Brambles are in the way? avoid them. Let this suffice. 
Add not presently speaking unto thyself, What serve 
these things for in the world ? For, this, one that is 
acquainted with the mysteries of nature, will laugh at 
thee for it; as a carpenter would or a shoemaker, if 
meeting in either of their shops with some shavings, or 
small remnants of their work, thou shouldest blame 
them for it. And yet those men, it is not for want of 
a place where to throw them that they keep them in 
their shops for a while : but the nature of the universe 
hath no such out-place ; but herein doth consist the 
wonder of her art and skill, that she having once 
circumscribed herself within some certain bounds and 

His Meditations 101 

limits, whatsoever is within her that seems either cor 
rupted, or old, or unprofitable, she can change it into 
herself, and of these very things can make new things ; 
so that she needeth not to seek elsewhere out of herself 
either for a new supply of matter and substance, or for 
a place where to throw out whatsoever is irrecoverably 
putrid and corrupt. Thus she, as for place, so for 
matter and art, is herself sufficient unto herself. 

XL1X. Not to be slack and negligent ; or loose, and 
wanton in thy actions ; nor contentious, and trouble 
some in thy conversation ; nor to rove and wander 
in thy fancies and imaginations. Not basely to con 
tract thy soul ; nor boisterously to sally out with it, or 
furiously to launch out as it were, nor ever to want 

L. They kill me, they cut my flesh : they persecute 
my person with curses. What then ? May not thy 
mind for all this continue pure, prudent, temperate, just ? 
As a fountain of sweet and clear water, though she be 
cursed by some stander by, yet do her springs neverthe 
less still run as sweet and clear as before ; yea though 
either dirt or dung be thrown in, yet is it no sooner 
thrown, than dispersed, and she cleared. She cannot 
be dyed or infected by it. What then must I do, that 
I may have within myself an overflowing fountain, and 
not a well? Beget thyself by continual pains and 
endeavours to true liberty with charity, and true sim 
plicity and modesty. 

LI. He that knoweth not what the world is, knoweth 
not where he himself is. And he that knoweth not 
what the world was made for, cannot possibly know 
either what are the qualities, or what is the nature of 
the world. Now he that in either of these is to seek, 
for what he himself was made is ignorant also. What 
then dost thou think of that man, who proposeth unto 
himself, as a matter of great moment, the noise and 
applause of men, who both where they are, and what 
they are themselves, are altogether ignorant ? Dost 
thou desire to be commended of that man, who thrice 
in one hour perchance, doth himself curse himself? 

IO2 Marcus Aurelius 

Dost thou desire to please him, who pleaseth not him 
self? or dost thou think that he pleaseth himself, who 
doth use to repent himself almost of everything that he 

LIT. Not only now henceforth to have a common 
breath, or to hold correspondency- of breath, with that 
air, that compasseth us about ; but to have a common 
mind, or to hold correspondency of mind also with that 
rational substance, which compasseth all things. For, 
that also is of itself, and of its own nature (if a man can 
but draw it in as he should) everywhere diffused; and 
passeth through all things, no less than the air doth, if a 
man can but suck it in. 

LI II. Wickedness in general doth not hurt the world. 
Particular wickedness doth not hurt any other : only 
unto him it is hurtful, whosoever he be that offends, 
unto whom in great favour and mercy it is granted, that 
whensoever he himself shall but first desire it, he may be 
presently delivered of it. Unto my free-will my neigh 
bour s free-will, whoever he be, (as his life, or his body), 
is altogether indifferent. For though we are all made 
one for another, yet have our minds and understandings, 
each of them their own proper and limited jurisdiction. 
For else another man s wickedness might be my evil ; 
which God would not have, that it might not be in 
another man s power to make me unhappy : which 
nothing now can do but mine own wickedness. 

LIV. The sun seemeth to be shed abroad. And 
indeed it is diffused but not effused. For that diffusion 
of it is a TCUTIS or an extension. For therefore are the 
beams of it called UK-rives from the word eKTeivecrdai, to 
be stretched out and extended. Now what a sunbeam 
is, thou mayest know if thou observe the light of the 
sun, when through some narrow hole it pierceth into 
some room that is dark. For it is always in a direct 
line. And as by any solid body, that it meets with in 
the way that is not penetrable by air, it is divided and 
abrupted, and yet neither slides off, or falls down, but 
stayeth there nevertheless : such must the diffusion of 
the mind be ; not an effusion, but an extension. What 

His Meditations 103 

obstacles and impediments soever she meeteth within 
her way, she must not violently, and by way of an im 
petuous onset light upon them ; neither must she fall 
down ; but she must stand, and give light unto that 
which doth admit of it. For as for that which doth 
not, it is its own fault and loss, if it bereave itself of 
her light. 

LV. He that feareth death, either feareth that he shall 
have no sense at all, or that his senses will not be the 
same. Whereas, he should rather comfort himself, that 
either no sense at all, and so no sense of evil ; or if any 
sense, then another life, and so no death properly. 

LVI. All men are made one for another : either then 
teach them better, or bear with them. 

LVII. The motion of the mind is not as the motion 
of a dart. For the mind when it is wary and cautelous, 
and by way of diligent circumspection turneth herself 
many ways, may then as well be said to go straight on to 
the object, as when it useth no such circumspection. 

LVI II. To pierce and penetrate into the estate of 
every one s understanding that thou hast to do with : as 
also to make the estate of thine own open, and pene 
trable to any other. 

IO4 Marcus Auretiu* 


I. He that is unjust, is also impious. For the nature of 
the universe, having made all reasonable creatures one 
for another, to the end that they should do one another 
good ; more or less according to the several persons and 
occasions ; but in nowise hurt one another : it is mani 
fest that he that doth transgress against this her will, is 
guilty of impiety towards the most ancient and venerable 
of all the deities. For the nature of the universe, is the 
nature the common parent of all, and therefore piously 
to be observed of all things that are, and that which now 
is, to whatsoever first was, and gave it its being, hath 
relation of blood and kindred. She is also called truth ; 
and is the first cause of all truths. He therefore that 
willingly and wittingly doth lie, is impious in that he 
doth receive, and so commit injustice : but he that 
against his will, in that he disagreeth from the nature 
of the universe, and in that striving with the nature of 
the world he doth in his particular, violate the general 
order of the world. For he doth no better than strive 
and war against it, who contrary to his own nature 
applieth himself to that which is contrary to truth. For 
nature had before furnished him with instincts and op 
portunities sufficient for the attainment of it ; which he 
having hitherto neglected, is not now able to discern 
that which is false from that which is true. He also 
that pursues after pleasures, as that which is truly good ; 
and flies from pains, as that which is truly evil : is im 
pious. For such a one must of necessity oftentimes 
accuse that common nature, as distributing many things 
both unto the evil, and unto the good, not according 
to the deserts of either : as unto the bad oftentimes 
pleasures, and the causes of pleasures ; so unto the 

His Meditations 105 

good, pains, and the occasions of pains. Again, he that 
feareth pains and crosses in this world, feareth some 
of those things which some time or other must needs 
happen in the world. And that we have already showed 
to be impious. And he that pursueth after pleasures, 
will not spare, to compass his desires, to do that which 
is unjust, and that is manifestly impious. Now those 
things which unto nature are equally indifferent (for she 
had not created both, both pain and pleasure, if both 
had not been unto her equally indifferent) : they that 
will live according to nature, must in those things (as 
being of the same mind and disposition that she is) be 
as equally indifferent. Whosoever therefore in either 
matter of pleasure and pain ; death and life ; honour 
and dishonour, (which things nature in the administra 
tion of the world, indifferently doth make use of), is not 
as indifferent, it is apparent that he is impious. When 
I say that common nature doth indifferently make use 
of them, my meaning is, that they happen indifferently 
in the ordinary course of things, which by a necessary 
consequence, whether as principal or accessory, come to 
pass in the world, according to that first and ancient 
deliberation of Providence, by which she from some 
certain beginning, did resolve upon the creation of such 
a world, conceiving then in her womb as it were some 
certain rational generative seeds and faculties of things 
future, whether subjects, changes, successions ; both 
such and such, and just so many. 

II. It were indeed more happy and comfortable, for 
a man to depart out of this world, having lived all his 
life long clear from all falsehood, dissimulation, volup 
tuousness, and pride. But if this cannot be, yet it is 
some comfort for a man joyfully to depart as weary, and 
out of love with those ; rather than to desire to live, and 
to continue long in those wicked courses. Hath not 
yet experience taught thee to fly from the plague ? For 
a far greater plague is the corruption of the mind, than 
any certain change and distemper of the common air 
can be. This is a plague of creatures, as they are living 
creatures ; but that of men as they are men or reasonable. 

io6 Marcus Aurelius 

III. Thou must not in matter of death carry thyself 
scornfully, but as one that is well pleased with it, as 
being one of those things that nature hath appointed. 
For what thou dost conceive of these, of a boy to 
become a young man, to wax old, to grow, to ripen, to 
get teeth, or a beard, or grey hairs ; to bej;et, to bear, or 
to be delivered ; or what other action soever it be, that 
is natural unto man according to the several seasons of 
his life ; such a thing is it also to be dissolved. It is 
therefore the part of a wise man, in matter of death, not 
in any wise to carry himself either violently, or proudly ; 
but patiently to wait for it, as one of nature s operations : 
that with the same mind as now thou dost expect when 
that which yet is but an embryo in thy wife s belly shall 
come forth, thou mayst expect also when thy soul shall 
fall off from that outward coat or skin : wherein as a 
child in the belly it lieth involved and shut up. But if 
thou desirest a more popular, and though not so direct 
and philosophical, yet a very powerful and penetrative 
recipe against the fear of death, nothing can make thee 
more willing to part with thy life, than if thou shall 
consider, both what the subjects themselves are that 
thou shalt part with, and what manner of dispositions 
thou shalt no more have to do with. True it is, that 
offended with them thou must not be by no means, 
but take care of them, and meekly bear with them. 
However, this thou mayst remember, that whensoever it 
happens that thou depart, it shall not be from men that 
held the same opinions that thou dost. For that in 
deed, (if it were so) is the only thing that might make 
thee averse from death, and willing to continue here, 
if it were thy hap to live with men that had obtained 
the same belief that thou hast. But now, what a toil 
it is for thee to live with men of different opinions, thou 
seest : so that thou hast rather occasion to say, Hasten, 
I thee pray, O Death ; lest I also in time forget myself. 

IV. He that sinneth, sinneth unto himself. He that 
is unjust, hurts himself, in that he makes himself worse 
than he was before. Not he only that committeth, but 
he also that omitteth something, is oftentimes unjust. 

His Meditations 107 

V. If my present apprehension of the object be right, 
and my present action charitable, and this, towards 
whatsoever doth proceed from God, be my present 
disposition, to be well pleased with it, it sufficeth. 

VI. To wipe away fancy, to use deliberation, to 
quench concupiscence, to keep the mind free to herself. 

VII. Of all unreasonable creatures, there is but one 
unreasonable soul ; and of all that are reasonable, but 
one reasonable soul, divided betwixt them all. As of 
all earthly things there is but one earth, and but one 
light that we see by ; and but one air that we breathe 
in, as many as either breathe or see. Now whatsoever 
partakes of some common thing, naturally affects and 
inclines unto that whereof it is part, being of one kind 
and nature with it. Whatsoever is earthly, presseth 
downwards to the common earth. Whatsoever is liquid, 
would flow together. And whatsoever is airy, would 
be together likewise. So that without some obstacle, 
and some kind of violence, they cannot well be kept 
asunder. Whatsoever is fiery, doth not only by reason 
of the elementary fire tend upwards ; but here also is 
so ready to join, and to burn together, that whatsoever 
doth want sufficient moisture to make resistance, is 
easily set on fire. Whatsoever therefore is partaker of 
that reasonable common nature, naturally doth as much 
and more long after his own kind. For by how much 
in its own nature it excels all other things, by so much 
more is it desirous to be joined and united unto that, 
which is of its own nature. As for unreasonable 
creatures then, they had not long been, but presently 
bc r un amont: them swarms, and flocks, and broods of 

o O 

young ones, and a kind of mutual love and affection. 
For though but unreasonable, yet a kind of soul these 
had, and therefore was that natural desire of union more 
strong and intense in them, as in creatures of a more 
excellent nature, than either in plants, or stones, or trees. 
But among reasonable creatures, begun commonwealths, 
friendships, families, public meetings, and even in their 
wars, conventions, and truces. Now among them that 
were yet of a more excellent nature, as the stars and 

io8 Marcus Aurelius 

planets, though by their nature far distant one from 
another, yet even among them began some mutual 
correspondency and unity. So proper is it to excellency 
in a high degree to affect unity, as that even in things so 
far distant, it could operate unto a mutual sympathy. 
But now behold, what is now come to pass. Those 
creatures that are reasonable, are now the only creatures 
that have forgotten their natural affection and inclination 
of one towards another. Among them alone of all other 
things that are of one kind, there is not to be found a 
general disposition to flow together. But though they 
fly from nature, yet are they stopt in their course, and 
apprehended. Do they what they can, nature doth 
prevail. And so shalt thou confess, if thou dost observe 
it. For sooner mayst thou find a thing earthly, where 
no earthly thing is, than find a man that naturally can 
live by himself alone. 

VIII. Man, God, the world, every one in their kind, 
bear some fruits. All things have their proper time to 
bear. Though by custom, the word itself is in a manner 
become proper unto the vine, and the like, yet is it so 
nevertheless, as we have said. As for reason, that 
beareth both common fruit for the use of others ; and 
peculiar, which itself doth enjoy. Reason is of a dif 
fusive nature, what itself is in itself, it begets in others, 
and so doth multiply. 

IX. Either teach them better if it be in thy power ; 
or if it be not, remember that for this use, to bear with 
them patiently, was mildness and goodness granted unto 
thee. The Gods themselves are good unto such ; yea 
and in some things, (as in matter of health, of wealth, of 
honour,) are content often to further their endeavours : 
so good and gracious are they. And mightest thou not 
be so too? or, tell me, what doth hinder thee? 

X. Labour not as one to whom it is appointed to be 
wretched, nor as one that either would be pitied, or 
admired ; but let this be thine only care and desire ; so 
always and in all things to prosecute or to forbear, as the 
law of charity, or mutual society doth require. 

XI. This day I did come out of all my trouble. Nay 

His Meditations 109 

I have cast out all my trouble ; it should rather be 
For that which troubled thee, whatsoever it was, was not 
without anywhere that thou shouldest come out of it, 
but within in thine own opinions, from whence it must 
be cast out, before thou canst truly and constantly be 
at ease. 

XII. All those things, for matter of experience are 
usual and ordinary ; for their continuance but for a 
day ; and for their matter, most base and filthy. As 
they were in the days of those whom we have buried, 
so are they now also, and no otherwise. 

XIII. The things themselves that affect us, they stand 
without doors, neither knowing anything themselves nor 
able to utter anything unto others concerning themselves. 
What then is it, that passeth verdict on them ? The 

XIV. As virtue and wickedness consist not in passion, 
but in action ; so neither doth the true good or evil of 
a reasonable charitable man consist in passion, but in 
operation and action. 

XV. To the stone that is cast up, when it comes down 
it is no hurt unto it ; as neither benefit, when it doth 

XVI. Sift their minds and understandings, and behold 
what men they be, whom thou dost stand in fear of what 
they shall judge of thee, what they themselves judge of 

XVII. All things that are in the world, are always in 
the estate of alteration. Thou also art in a perpetual 
change, yea and under corruption too, in some part : and 
so is the whole world. 

XVIII. It is not thine, but another man s sin. Why 
should it trouble thee? Let him look to it, whose sin 
it is. 

XIX. Of an operation and of a purpose there is an 
ending, or of an action and of a purpose we say com 
monly, that it is at an end : from opinion also there 
is an absolute cessation, which is as it were the death 
of it. In all this there is no hurt. Apply this now to 
a man s age. as first, a child : then a youth, then a young 

no Marcus Aurelius 

man, then an old man ; every change from one age to 
another is a kind of death. And all this while here is 
no matter of grief yet. Pass now unto that life first, 
that which thou livedst under thy grandfather, then 
under thy mother, then under thy father. And thus 
when through the whole course of thy life hitherto thou 
hast found and observed many alterations, many changes, 
many kinds of endings and cessations, put this question 
to thyself, What matter of grief or sorrow dost thou find 
in any of these? Or what doest thou suffer through 
any of these ? If in none of these, then neither in the 
ending and consummation of thy whole life, which is 
also but a cessation and change. 

XX. As occasion shall require, either to thine own 
understanding, or to that of the universe, or to his, whom 
thou hast now to do with, let thy refuge be with all speed. 
To thine own, that it resolve upon nothing against justice. 
To that of the universe, that thou mayest remember, part 
of whom thou art. Of his, that thou mayest consider, 
whether in the estate of ignorance, or of knowledge. 
And then also must thou call to mind, that he is thy 

XXI. As thou thyself, whoever thou art, wert made 
for the perfection and consummation, being a member 
of it, of a common society ; so must every action of 
thine tend to the perfection and consummation of a life 
that is truly sociable. What action soever of thine 
therefore that either immediately or afar off, hath not 
reference to the common good, that is an exorbitant 
and disorderly action ; yea it is seditious ; as one among 
the people who from such and such a consent and unity, 
should factiously divide and separate himself. 

XXII. Children s anger, mere babels ; wretched souls 
bearing up dead bodies, that they may not have their 
fall so soon : even as it is in that common dirge song. 

XXIII. Go to the quality of the cause from which the 
effect doth proceed. Behold it by itself bare and naked, 
separated from all that is material. Then consider the 
utmost bounds of time that that cause, thus and thus 
qualified, can subsist and abide. 

His Meditations in 

XXIV. Infinite are the troubles and miseries, that 
them hast already been put to, by reason of this only, 
because that for all happiness it did not suffice thee, or, 
that thou didst not account it sufficient happiness, that 
thy understanding did operate according to its natural 

XXV. When any shall either impeach thee with false 
accusations, or hatefully reproach thee, or shall use any 
such carriage towards thee, get thee presently to their 
minds and understandings, and look in them, and behold 
what manner of men they be. Thou shalt see, that 
there is no such occasion why it should trouble thee, 
what such as they are think of thee. Yet must thou 
love them still, for by nature they are thy friends. And 
the Gods themselves, in those things that they seek 
from them as matters of great moment, are well content, 
all manner of ways, as by dreams and oracles, to help 
them as well as others. 

XXVI. Up and down, from one age to another, go the 
ordinary things of the world ; being still the same. And 
either of everything in particular before it come to pass, 
the mind of the universe doth consider with itself and 
deliberate : and if so, then submit for shame unto the 
determination of such an excellent understanding : or 
once for all it did resolve upon all things in general ; 
and since that whatsoever happens, happens by a neces 
sary consequence, and all things indivisibly in a manner 
and inseparably hold one of another. In sum, either 
there is a God, and then all is well ; or if all things 
go by chance and fortune, yet mayest thou use thine 
own providence in those things that concern thee 
properly ; and then art thou well. 

XXVII. Within a while the earth shall cover us all, 
and then she herself shall have her change. And then 
the course will be, from one period of eternity unto 
another, and so a perpetual eternity. Now can any man 
that shall consider with himself in his mind the several 
rollings or successions of so many changes and altera 
tions, and the swiftness of all these rollings; can he 
otherwise but contemn in his heart and despise all worldly 

ii2 Marcus Aurelius 

things ? The cause of the universe is as it were a strong 
torrent, it carrieth all away. 

XXVIII. And these your professed politicians, the 
only true practical philosophers of the world, (as thiey 
think of themselves) so full of affected gravity, or such 
professed lovers of virtue and honesty, what wretches be 
they in very deed ; how vile and contemptible in them 
selves ? O man ! what ado doest thou keep ? Do what 
thy nature doth now require. Resolve upon it, if thou 
mayest : and take no thought, whether anybody shall 
know it or no. Yea, but sayest thou, I must not expect 
a Plato s commonwealth. If they profit though never 
so little, I must be content ; and think much even of 
that little progress. Doth then any of them forsake 
their former false opinions that I should think they 
profit? For without a change of opinions, alas! what 
is all that ostentation, but mere wretchedness of slavish 
minds, that groan privately, and yet would make a show 
of obedience to reason, and truth ? Go too now and 
tell me of Alexander and Philippus, and Demetrius 
Phalereus. Whether they understood what the common 
nature requireth, and could rule themselves or no, they 
know best themselves. But if they kept a life, and 
swaggered ; I (God "be thanked) am not bound to 
imitate them. The effect of true philosophy is, un 
affected simplicity and modesty. Persuade me not to 
ostentation and vainglory. 

XXIX. From some high place as it were to look 
down, and to behold here flocks, and there sacrifices, 
without number ; and all kind of navigation ; some in a 
rough and stormy sea, and some in a calm : the general 
differences, or different estates of things, some, that are 
now first upon being ; the several and mutual relations 
of those things that are together ; and some other things 
that are at their last. Their lives also, who were long 
ago, and theirs who shall be hereafter, and the present 
estate and life of those many nations of barbarians that 
are now in the world, thou must likewise consider in 
thy mind. And how many there be, who never so much 
as heard of thy name, how many that will soon forget 

His Meditations 113 

it; how many who but even now did commend thee, 
within a very little while perchance will speak ill of 
thee. So that neither fame, nor honour, nor anything 
else that this world doth afford, is worth the while. 
The sum then of all ; whatsoever doth happen unto 
thee, whereof God is the cause, to accept it contentedly : 
whatsoever thou doest, whereof thou thyself art the 
cause, to do it justly : which will be, if both in thy 
resolution and in thy action thou have no further end, 
than to do good unto others, as being that, which by 
thy natural constitution, as a man, thou art bound 

XXX. Many of those things that trouble and straiten 
thee, it is in thy power to cut off, as wholly depending 
from mere conceit and opinion; and then thou shalt 
have room enough. 

XXXI. To comprehend the whole world together in 
thy mind, and the whole course of this present age to 
represent it unto thyself, and to fix thy thoughts upon 
the sudden change of every particular object. How 
short the time is from the generation of anything, unto 
the dissolution of the same ; but how immense and 
infinite both that which was before the generation, and 
that which after the generation of it shall be. All things 
that thou seest, will soon be perished, and they that see 
their corruptions, will soon vanish away themselves. He 
that dieth a hundred years old, and he that dieth young, 
shall come all to one. 

XXXII. What are their minds and understandings ; 
and what the things that they apply themselves unto : 
what do they love, and what do they hate for ? Fancy 
to thyself the estate of their souls openly to be seen. 
When they think they hurt them shrewdly, whom they 
speak ill of ; and when they think they do them a very 
good turn, whom they commend and extol : O how full 
are they then of conceit, and opinion ! 

XXXIII. Loss and corruption, is in very deed nothing 
else but change and alteration ; and that is it, which the 
nature of the universe doth most delight in, by which, 
and according to which, whatsoever is done, is well 


!i4 Marcus Aurelius 

done. For that was the estate of worldly things from 
the beginning, and so shall it ever be. Or wouldest 
thou rather say, that all things in the world have gone 
ill from the beginning for so many ages, and shall ever 
go ill ? And then among so many deities, could no 
divine power be found all this while, that could rectify 
the things of the world ? Or is the world, to incessant 
woes and miseries, for ever condemned ? 

XXXIV. How base and putrid, every common matter 
is ! Water, dust, and from the mixture of these bones, 
and all that loathsome stuff that our bodies do consist of; 
so subject to be infected, and corrupted. And again 
those other things that are so much prized and admired, 
as marble stones, what are they, but as it were the 
kernels of the earth ? gold and silver, what are they, but 
as the more gross faeces of the earth ? Thy most royal 
apparel, for matter, it is but as it were the hair of a silly 
sheep, and for colour, the very blood of a shell-fish ; of 
this nature are all other things. Thy life itself, is some 
such thing too ; a mere exhalation of blood : and it also, 
apt to be changed into some other common thing. 

XXXV. Will this querulousness, this murmuring, this 
complaining and dissembling never be at an end? What 
then is it, that troubleth thee ? Doth any new thing 
happen unto thee ? What doest thou so wonder at ? 
At the cause, or the matter ? Behold either by itself, is 
either of that weight and moment indeed ? And besides 
these, there is not anything. But thy duty towards the 
Gods also, it is time thou shouldst acquit thyself of it 
with more goodness and simplicity. 

XXXVI. It is all one to see these things for a hundred 
of years tocether, or but for three years. 

XXXVII. If he have sinned, his is the harm, not 
mine. But perchance he hath not. 

XXXVIII. Either all things by the providence of 
reason happen unto every particular, as a part of one 
general body ; and then it is against reason that a part 
should complain of anything that happens for the good 
of the whole ; or if, according to Epicurus, atoms be the 
cause of all things and that life be nothing else but an 

His Meditations 115 

accidentary confusion of things, and death nothing else, 
but a mere dispersion and so of all other things : what 
doest thou trouble thyself for ? 

XXXIX. Sayest thou unto that rational part, Thou 
art dead ; corruption hath taken hold on thee ? Doth 
it then also void excrements ? Doth it like either oxen, 
or sheep, graze or feed; that it also should be mortal, 
as well as the body ? 

XL. Either the Gods can do nothing for us at ail, 
or they can still and allay all the distractions and dis 
tempers of thy mind. If they can do nothing, why doest 
thou pray ? If they can, why wouldst not thou rather 
pray, that they will grant unto thee, that thou mayst 
neither fear, nor lust after any of those worldly things 
which cause these distractions and distempers of it? 
Why not rather, that thou mayst not at either their 
absence or presence, be grieved and discontented : than 
either that thou mayst obtain them, or that thou mayst 
avoid them ? For certainly it must needs be, that if the 
Gods can help us in anything, they may in this kind 
also. But thou wilt say perchance, In those things 
the Gods have given me my liberty : and it is in mine 
own power to do what I will. But if thou mayst use 
this liberty, rather to set thy mind at true liberty, than 
wilfully with baseness and servility of mind to affect 
those things, which either to compass or to avoid is 
not in thy power, wert not thou better ? And as for the 
Gods, who hath told thee, that they may not help us 
up even in those things that they have put in our own 
power ? Whether it be so or no, thou shalt soon per 
ceive, if thou wilt but try thyself and pray. One prayeth 
that he may compass his desire, to lie with such or such 
a one, pray thou that thou mayst not lust to lie with 
her. Another how he may be rid of such a one; 
pray thou that thou mayst so patiently bear with him, 
as that thou have no such need to be rid of him. 
Another, that he may not lose his child. Pray thou 
that thou mayst not fear to lose him. To this end 
and purpose, let all thy prayer be, and see what will 
be the event. 

n6 Marcus Aurelius 

XLI. In my sickness (saith Epicurus of himself:) 
my discourses were not concerning the nature of my 
disease, neither was that, to them that came to visit me, 
the subject of my talk; but in the consideration and 
contemplation of that, which was of especial weight and 
moment, was all my time bestowed and spent, and 
among others in this very thing, how my mind, by a 
natural and unavoidable sympathy partaking in some 
sort with the present indisposition of my body, might 
nevertheless keep herself free from trouble, and in present 
possession of her own proper happiness. Neither did 
I leave the ordering of my body to the physicians alto 
gether to do with me what they would, as though I 
expected any great matter from them, or as though I 
thought it a matter of such great consequence, by their 
means to recover my health : for my present estate, me- 
thought, liked me very well, and gave me good content. 
Whether therefore in sickness (if thou chance to sicken) 
or in what other kind of extremity soever, endeavour 
thou also to be in thy mind so affected, as he doth 
report of himself : not to depart from thy philosophy for 
anything that can befall thee, nor to give ear to the 
discourses of silly people, and mere naturalists. 

XLII. It is common to all trades and professions to 
mind and intend that only, which now they are about, 
and the instrument whereby they work. 

XLIII. When at any time thou art offended with any 
one s impudency, put presently this question to thyself: 
What? Is it then possible, that there should not be 
any impudent men in the world ! Certainly it is not 
possible. Desire not then that which is impossible. For 
this one, (thou must think) whosoever he be, is one of 
those impudent ones, that the world cannot be without. 
So of the subtile and crafty, so of the perfidious, so of 
every one that offendeth, must thou ever be ready to 
reason with thyself. For whilst in general thou dost 
thus reason with thyself, that the kind of them must 
needs be in the world, thou wilt be the better able to 
use meekness towards every particular. This also thou 
shalt find of very good use, upon every such occasion, 

His Meditations 117 

presently to consider with thyself, what proper virtue 
nature hath furnished man with, against such a vice, 
or to encounter with a disposition vicious in this kind. 
As for example, against the unthankful, it hath given 
goodness and meekness, as an antidote, and so against 
another vicious in another kind some other peculiar 
faculty. And generally, is it not in thy power to instruct 
him better, that is in an error? For whosoever sinneth, 
doth in that decline from his purposed end, and is 
certainly deceived. And again, what art thou the worse 
for his sin ? For thou shalt not find that any one of 
these, against whom thou art incensed, hath in very 
deed done anything whereby thy mind (the only true 
subject of thy hurt and evil) can be made worse than it 
was. And what a matter of either grief or wonder is 
this, if he that is unlearned, do the deeds of one that 
is unlearned ? Should not thou rather blame thyself, 
who, when upon very good grounds of reason, thou 
mightst have thought it very probable, that such a thing 
would by such a one be committed, didst not only not 
foresee it, but moreover dost wonder at it, that such a 
thing should be. But then especially, when thou dost 
find fault with either an unthankful, or a false man, must 
thou reflect upon thyself. For without all question, thou 
thyself art much in fault, if either of one that were of 
i such a disposition, thou didst expect that he should be 
I true unto thee : or when unto any thou didst a good 
i turn, thou didst not there bound thy thoughts, as one 
I that had obtained his end; nor didst not think that 
I from the action itself thou hadst received a full reward 
of the good that thou hadst done. For what wouldst 
thou have more ? Unto him that is a man, thou hast 
done a good turn : doth not that suffice thee ? What 
thy nature required, that hast thou done. Must thou 
be rewarded for it? As if either the eye for that it 
seeth, or the feet that they go, should require satisfac- 
tion. For as these being by nature appointed for such 
an use, can challenge no more, than that they may work 
according to their natural constitution : so man being 
i born to do good unto others whensoever he doth a real 

u8 Marcus Aurelius 

good unto any by helping them out of error ; or though 
but in middle things, as in matter of wealth, life, pre 
ferment, and the like, doth help to further their desires : 
he doth that for which he was made, and therefore can 
require no more. 

His Meditations 119 


I. O my soul, the time I trust will be, when thou shall 
be good, simple, single, more open and visible, than that 
body by which it is enclosed. Thou wilt one day be 
sensible of their happiness, whose end is love, and their 
affections dead to all worldly things. Thou shalt one 
day be full, and in want of no external thing : not seek 
ing pleasure from anything, either living or insensible, 
that this world can afford ; neither wanting time for the 
continuation of thy pleasure, nor place and opportunity, 
nor the favour either of the weather or of men. When 
thou shalt have content in thy present estate, and all 
things present shall add to thy content : when thou 
shalt persuade thyself, that thou hast all things ; all for 
thy good, and all by the providence of the Gods : and 
of things future also shalt be as confident, that all will 
do well, as tending to the maintenance arid preservation 
in some sort, of his perfect welfare and happiness, who 
is perfection of life, of goodness, and beauty ; who be 
gets all things, and containeth all things in himself, and 
in himself doth recollect all things from all places that 
are dissolved, that of them he may beget others again 
like unto them. Such one day shall be thy disposition, 
that thou shalt be able, both in regard of the Gods, 
and in regard of men, so to fit and order thy conver 
sation, as neither to complain of them at any time, 
for anything that they do ; nor to do anything thyself, 
for which thou mayest justly be condemned. 

II. As one who is altogether governed by nature, let 
it be thy care to observe what it is that thy nature in 
general doth require. That done, if thou find not that 
thy nature, as thou art a living sensible creature, will be 

I2O Marcus Aurelius 

the worse for it, thou mayest proceed. Next then thou 
must examine, what thy nature as thou art a living sen 
sible creature, doth require. And that, whatsoever it 
be, thou mayest admit of and do it, if thy nature as thou 
art a reasonable living creature, will not be the worse 
for it. Now whatsoever is reasonable, is also sociable. 
Keep thyself to these rules, and trouble not thyself about 
idle things. 

III. Whatsoever doth happen unto thee, thou art 
naturally by thy natural constitution either able, or not 
able to bear. If thou beest able, be not offended, but 
bear it according to thy natural constitution, or as 
nature hath enabled thee. If thou beest not able, be 
not offended. For it will soon make an end of thee, 
and itself, (whatsoever it be) at the same time end with 
thee. But remember, that whatsoever by the strength 
of opinion, grounded upon a certain apprehension of 
both true profit and duty, thou canst conceive toler 
able ; that thou art able to bear that by thy natural 

IV. Him that offends, to teach with love and meek 
ness, and to show him his error. But if thou canst not, 
then to blame thyself, or rather not thyself neither, if thy 
will and endeavours have not been wanting. 

V. Whatsoever it be that happens unto thee, it is 
that which from all time was appointed unto thee. For 
by the same coherence of causes, by which thy sub 
stance from all eternity was appointed to be, was also 
whatsoever should happen unto it, destinated and ap 

VI. Either with Epicurus, we must fondly imagine the 
atoms to be the cause of all things, or we must needs 
grant a nature. Let this then be thy first ground, that 
thou art part of that universe, which is governed by 
nature. Then secondly, that to those parts that are of 
the same kind and nature as thou art, thou hast relation 
of kindred. For of these, if I shall always be mindful, 
first as I am a part, I shall never be displeased with 
anything, that falls to my particular share of the common 
chances of the world. For nothing that is behoveful 

His Meditations 121 

unto the whole, can be truly hurtful to that which is part 
of it. For this being the common privilege of all 
natures, that they contain nothing in themselves that is 
hurtful unto them ; it cannot be that the nature of the 
universe (whose privilege beyond other particular natures, 
is, that she cannot against her will by any higher external 
cause be constrained,) should beget anything and cherish 
it in her bosom that should tend to her own hurt and 
prejudice. As then I bear in mind that I am a part of 
such an universe, I shall not be displeased with anything 
that happens. And as I have relation of kindred to 
those parts that are of the same kind and nature that I 
am, so I shall be careful to do nothing that is prejudicial 
to the community, but in all my deliberations shall they 
that are of my kind ever be ; and the common good, 
that, which all my intentions and resolutions shall drive 
unto, as that which is contrary unto it, I shall by all 
means endeavour to prevent and avoid. These things 
once so fixed and concluded, as thou wouldst think him 
a happy citizen, whose constant study and practice were 
for the good and benefit of his fellow citizens, and the 
carnage of the city such towards him, that he were well 
pleased with it ; so must it needs be with thee, that thou 
shalt live a happy life. 

VII. All parts of the world, (all things I mean that 
are contained within the whole world.) must of necessity 
at some time or other come to corruption. Alteration I 
should say, to speak truly and properly ; but that I may 
be the better understood, I am content at this time to 
use that more common word. Now say I, if so be that 
this be both hurtful unto them, and yet unavoidable, 
would not, thinkest thou, the whole itself be in a sweet 
case, all the parts of it being subject to alteration, yea 
and by their making itself fitted for corruption, as con 
sisting of things different and contrary? And did 
nature then either of herself thus project and purpose 
the affliction and misery of her parts, and therefrre of 
purpose so made them, not only that haply they might, 
but of necessity that they should fall into evil ; or did 
not she know what she did, when she made them ? For 

122 Marcus Aurelius 

either of these two to say, is equally absurd. But to let 
pass nature in general, and to reason of things particular 
according to their own particular natures ; how absurd 
and ridiculous is it, first to say that all parts of the 
whole are, by their proper natural constitution, subject 
to alteration ; and then when any such thing doth 
happen, as when one doth fall sick and dieth, to take 
on and wonder as though some strange thing had 
happened? Though this besides might move not so 
grievously to take on when any such thing doth happen, 
that whatsoever is dissolved, it is dissolved into those 
things, whereof it was compounded. For every dissolu 
tion is either a mere dispersion, of the elements into 
those elements again whereof everything did consist, or 
a change, of that which is more solid into earth ; and of 
that which is pure and subtile or spiritual, into air. So 
that by this means nothing is lost, but all resumed again 
into those rational generative seeds of the universe ; and 
this universe, either after a certain period of time to be 
consumed by fire, or by continual changes to be renewed, 
and so for ever to endure. Now that solid and spiritual 
that we speak of, thou must not conceive it to be that 
very same, which at first was, when thou wert born. 
For alas ! all this that now thou art in either kind, 
either for matter of substance, or of life, hath but two or 
three days ago partly from meats eaten, and partly from 
air breathed in, received all its influx, being the same 
then in no other respect, than a running river, maintained 
by the perpetual influx and new supply of waters, is the 
same. That therefore which thou hast since received, 
not that which came from thy mother, is that which 
comes to change and corruption. But suppose that that 
for the general substance, and more solid part of it, 
should still cleave unto thee never so close, yet what is 
that to the proper qualities and affections of it, by 
which persons are distinguished, which certainly are 
quite different? 

VIII. Now that thou hast taken these names upon 
thee of good, modest, true ; of ffjuf>puv t ar^pw, 
take heed lest at any times by doing any- 

His Meditations 123 

thing that is contrary, thou be but improperly so called, 
and lose thy right to these appellations. Or if thou do, 
return unto them again with all possible speed. And re 
member, that the word !/*</>/3wv notes unto thee an intent 
and intelligent consideration of every object that presents 
itself unto thee, without distraction. And the word 
crv[j.(f)p(i)v, a ready and contented acceptation of what 
soever by the appointment of the common nature, 
happens unto thee. And the word uare/a^/wov, a super- 
extension, or a transcendent, and outreaching disposition 
of thy mind, whereby it passeth by all bodily pains and 
pleasures, honour and credit, death and whatsoever is of 
the same nature, as matters of absolute indifferency, and 
in no wise to be stood upon by a wise man. These 
then if inviolably thou shalt observe, and shall not be 
ambitious to be so called by others, both thou thyself 
shalt become a new man, and thou shalt begin a new 
life. For to continue such as hitherto thou hast been, 
to undergo those distractions and distempers as thou 
must needs for such a life as hitherto thou hast lived, 
is the part of one that is very foolish, and is overfond of 
his life. Whom a man might compare to one of those 
half-eaten wretches, matched in the amphitheatre with 
wild beasts ; who as full as they are all the body over 
with wounds and blood, desire for a great favour, that 
they may be reserved till the next day, then also, and 
in the same estate to be exposed to the same nails and 
teeth as before. Away therefore, ship thyself, and from 
the troubles and distractions of thy former life convey 
thyself as it were unto these few names ; and if thou 
canst abide in them, or be constant in the practice and 
possession of them, continue there as glad and joyful as 
one that were translated unto some such place of bliss 
and happiness as that which by Hesiod and Plato is 
called the Islands of the Blessed, by others called the 
Elysian Fields. And whensoever thou findest thyself, 
that thou art in danger of a relapse, and that thou 
art not able to master and overcome those difficulties 
and temptations that present themselves in thy present 
station : get thee into any private corner, where thou 

124 Marcus Aurelius 

mayst be better able. Or if that will not serve, forsake 
even thy life rather. But so that it be not in passion, 
but in a plain voluntary modest way : this being the 
only commendable action of thy whole life, that thus 
thou art departed, or this having been the main work 
and business of thy whole life, that thou mightest thus 
depart. Now for the better remembrance of those 
names that we have spoken of, thou shalt find it a very 
good help, to remember the Gods as often as may be ; 
and that, the thing which they require at our hands, of 
as many of us, as are by nature reasonable creatures ; 
is not that with fair words, and outward show of piety 
and devotion we should flatter them, but that we should 
become like unto them : and that as all other natural 
creatures, the fig tree for example ; the dog, the bee ; 
both do, all of them, and apply themselves unto that, 
which by their natural constitution, is proper unto them ; 
so man likewise should do that, which by his nature, as 
he is a man, belongs unto him. 

IX. Toys and fooleries at home ; wars abroad : some 
times terror, sometimes torpor, or stupid sloth : this is 
thy daily slavery. By little and little, if thou doest not 
better look to it, those sacred dogmata will be blotted 
out of thy mind. How many things be there, which 
when as a mere naturalist, thou hast barely considered 
of according to their nature, thou doest let pass without 
any further use ? Whereas thou shouldst in all things 
so join action and contemplation, that thou mightest 
both at the same time attend all present occasions, to 
perform everything duly and carefully ; and yet so intend 
the contemplative part too, that no part of that delight 
and pleasure, which the contemplative knowledge of 
everything according to its true nature doth of itself 
afford, might be lost. Or, that the true and contem 
plative knowledge of everything according to its own 
nature, might of itself, (action being subject to many 
lets and impediments) afford unto thee sufficient pleasure 
and happiness. Not apparent indeed, but not concealed. 
And when shalt thou attain to the happiness of true 
simplicity, and unaffected gravity? When shalt thou 

His Meditations 125 

rejoice in the certain knowledge of every particular 
object according to its true nature : as what the matter 
and substance of it is ; what use it is for in the world : 
how long it can subsist : what things it doth consist of: 
who they be that are capable of it, and who they that 
can give it, and take it away ? 

X. As the spider, when it hath caught the fly that it 
hunted after, is not little proud, nor meanly conceited 
of herself: as he likewise that hath caught an hare, or 
hath taken a fish with his net : as another for the taking 
of a boar, and another of a bear : so may they be proud, 
and applaud themselves for their valiant acts against the 
Sarmatoe, or northern nations lately defeated. For these 
also, these famous soldiers and warlike men, if thou dost 
look into their minds and opinions, what do they for 
the most part but hunt after prey ? 

XI. To find out, and set to thyself some certain way 
and method of contemplation, whereby thou mayest 
clearly discern and represent unto thyself, the mutual 
change of all things, the one into the other. Bear it in 
thy mind evermore, and see that thou be throughly 
well exercised in this particular. For there is not any 
thing more effectual to beget true magnanimity. 

XII. He hath got loose from the bonds of his body, 
and perceiving that within a very little while he must 
of necessity bid the world farewell, and leave all these 
things behind him, he wholly applied himself, as to 
righteousness in all his actions, so to the common 
nature in all things that should happen unto him. And 
contenting himself with these two things, to do all things 
justly, and whatsoever God doth send to like well of it : 
what others shall either say or think of him, or shall do 
against him, he doth not so much as trouble his thoughts 
with it. To go on straight, whither right and reason 
directed him, and by so doing to follow God, was the 
only thing that he did mind, that, his only business and 

XIII. What use is there of suspicion at all? or, why 
should thoughts of mistrust, and suspicion concerning 
that which is future, trouble thy mind at all? What 

126 Marcus Aurelius 

now is to be done, if thou mayest search and inquire 
into that, what needs thou care for more? And if thou 
art well able to perceive it alone, let no man divert thee 
from it. But if alone thou doest not so well perceive it, 
suspend thine action, and take advice from the best. And 
if there be anything else that doth hinder thee, go on 
with prudence and discretion, according to the present 
occasion and opportunity, still proposing that unto thy 
self, which thou doest conceive most right and just. 
For to hit that aright, and to speed in the prosecution 
of it, must needs be happiness, since it is that only 
which we can truly and properly be said to miss of, or 
miscarry in. 

XIV. What is that that is slow, and yet quick ? merry, 
and yet grave ? He that in all things doth follow reason 
for his guide. 

XV. In the morning as soon as thou art awaked, when 
thy judgment, before either thy affections, or external 
objects have wrought upon it, is yet most free and im 
partial : put this question to thyself, whether if that 
which is right and just be done, the doing of it by 
thyself, or by others when thou art not able thyself, be 
a thing material or no. For sure it is not. And as for 
these that keep such a life, and stand so much upon the 
praises, or dispraises of other men, hast thou forgotten : 
what manner of men they be ? that such and such upon 
their beds, and such at their board : what their ordinary 
actions are : what they pursue after, and what they fly 
from : what thefts and rapines they commit, if not with 
their hands and feet, yet with that more precious part 
of theirs, their minds : which (would it but admit of 
them) might enjoy faith, modesty, truth, justice, a good 

XVI. Give what thou wilt, and take away what thou 
wilt, saith he that is well taught and truly modest, to Him 
that gives, and takes away. And it is not out of a stout 
and peremptory resolution, that he saith it, but in mere 
love, and humble submission. 

XVII. So live as indifferent to the world and all 
worldly objects, as one who liveth by himself alone upon 

His Meditations 127 

some desert hill. For whether here, or there, if the 
whole world be but as one town, it matters not much 
for the place. Let them behold and see a man, that is 
a man indeed, living according to the true nature of man. 
If they cannot bear with me, let them kill me. For 
better were it to die, than so to live as they would have 

XVIII. Make it not any longer a matter of dispute or 
discourse, what are the signs and proprieties of a good 
man, but really and actually to be such. 

XIX. Ever to represent unto thyself, and to set before 
thee, both the general age and time of the world, and the 
whole substance of it. And how all things particular in 
respect of these are for their substance, as one of the least 
seeds that is : and for their duration, as the turning of 
the pestle in the mortar once about. Then to fix thy 
mind upon every particular object of the world, and 
to conceive it, (as it is indeed,) as already being in the 
state of dissolution, and of change ; tending to some 
kind of either putrefaction or dispersion ; or whatsoever 
else it is, that is the death as it were of everything in 
his own kind. 

XX. Consider them through all actions and occupa 
tions, of their lives : as when they eat, and when they 
sleep : when they are in the act of necessary exoneration, 
and when in the act of lust. Again, when they either 
are in their greatest exultation ; and in the middle of all 
their pomp and glory ; or being angry and displeased, in 
great state and majesty, as from an higher place, they 
chide and rebuke. How base and slavish, but a little 
while ago, they were fain to be, that they might come to 
this ; and within a very little while what will be their 
estate, when death hath once seized upon them. 

XXI. That is best for every one, that the common 
nature of all doth send unto every one, and then is it 
best, when she doth send it. 

XXII. The earth, saith the poet, doth often long after 
the rain. So is the glorious sky often as desirous to fall 
upon the earth, which argues a mutual kind of love 
between them. And so (say I) doth the world bear a 

128 Marcus Aurelius 

certain affection of love to whatsoever shall come to pass. 
With thine affections shall mine concur, O world. The 
same (and no other,) shall the object of my longing be, 
which is of thine. Now that the world doth love, as it 
is true indeed, so is it as commonly said, and acknow 
ledged, when, according to the Greek phrase, imitated 
by the Latins, of things that use to be, we say commonly, 
that they love to be. 

XXIII. Either thou doest continue in this kind of life, 
and that is it, which so long thou hast been used unto 
and therefore tolerable : or thou doest retire, or leave 
the world, and that of thine own accord, and then thou 
hast thy mind : or thy life is cut off, and then mayest 
thou rejoice that thou hast ended thy charge. One of 
these must needs be. Be therefore of good comfort. 

XXIV. Let it always appear and be manifest unto 
thee, that solitariness, and desert places, by many philo 
sophers so much esteemed of and affected, are of them 
selves but thus and thus ; and that all things are here 
to them that live in towns, and converse with others : as 
they are the same nature everywhere to be seen and 
observed : to them that have retired themselves to the 
top of mountains, and to desert havens, or what other 
desert and inhabited places soever. For anywhere if 
thou wilt mayest thou quickly find and apply that to 
thyself, which Plato saith of his philosopher, in a place ; 
as private and retired, saith he, as if he were shut up and 
enclosed about in some shepherd s lodge, on the top of 
a hill. There by thyself to put these questions to thyself, 
or to enter in these considerations : What is my chief 
and principal part, which hath power over the rest? 
What is now the present estate of it, as I use it ; and 
what is it, that I employ it about ? Is it now void of 
reason or no ? Is it free, and separated ; or so affixed, 
so congealed and grown together as it were with the 
flesh, that it is swayed by the motions and inclinations 
of it? 

XXV. He that runs away from his master is a fugitive. 
But the law is every man s master. He therefore that 
forsakes the law, is a fugitive. So is he, whosoever he 

His Meditations 129 

be, that is either sorry, angry, or afraid, or for anything 
that either hath been, is, or shall be by his appointment, 
who is the Lord and Governor of the universe. For he 
truly and properly is NO/ACS, or the law, as the only ve/zwf, 
or distributor and dispenser of all things that happen 
unto any one in his lifetime. Whatsoever then is either 
sorry, angry, or afraid, is a fugitive. 

XXVI. From man is the seed, that once cast into the 
womb, man hath no more to do with it. Another cause 
succeedeth, and undertakes the work, and in time brings 
a child (that wonderful effect from such a beginning !) to 
perfection. Again, man lets food down through his 
throat ; and that once down, he hath no more to do 
with it. Another cause succeedeth and distributeth this 
food into the senses, and the affections : into life, and 
into strength ; and doth with it those other many and 
marvellous things, that belong unto man. These things 
therefore that are so secretly and invisibly wrought and 
brought to pass, thou must use to behold and contem 
plate ; and not the things themselves only, but the power 
also by which they are effected ; that thou mayst behold 
it, though not with the eyes of the body, yet as plainly 
and visibly as thou canst see and discern the outward 
efficient cause of the depression and elevation of 

XXVII. Ever to mind and consider with thyself, how 
all things that now are, have been heretofore much after 
the same sort, and after the same fashion that now they 
are : and so to think of those things which shall be 
hereafter also. Moreover, whole dramata, and uniform 
scenes, or scenes that comprehend the lives and actions 
of men of one calling and profession, as many as either 
in thine own experience thou hast known, or by reading 
of ancient histories ; (as the whole court of Adrianus, 
the whole court of Antoninus Pius, the whole court of 
Philippus, that of Alexander, that of Croesus) : to set 
them all before thine eyes. For thou shalt find that 
they are all but after one sort and fashion : only that 
the actors were others. 

XXVIII. As a pig that cries and flings when his 


130 Marcus Aurelius 

throat is cut, fancy to thyself every one to be, that 
grieves for any worldly thing and takes on. Such a one 
is he also, who upon his bed alone, doth bewail the 
miseries of this our mortal life. And remember this, 
that unto reasonable creatures only it is granted that 
they may willingly and freely submit unto Providence : 
but absolutely to submit, is a necessity imposed upon 
all creatures equally. 

XXIX. Whatsoever it is that thou goest about, con 
sider of it by thyself, and ask thyself, What? because I 
shall do this no more when I am dead, should therefore 
death seem grievous unto me? 

XXX. When thou art offended with any man s trans 
gression, presently reflect upon thyself, and consider 
what thou thyself art guilty of in the same kind. As 
that thou also perchance dost think it a happiness either 
to be rich, or to live in pleasure, or to be praised and 
commended, and so of the rest in particular. For this 
11 thou shalt call to mind, thou shalt soon forget thine 
anger ; especially when at the same time this also shall 
concur in thy thoughts, that he was constrained by his 
error and ignorance so to do : for how can he choose as 
long as he is of that opinion ? Do thou therefore if thou 
canst, take away that from him, that forceth him to do 
as he doth. 

XXXI. When thou seest Satyro, think of Socraticus, 
and Eutyches, or Hymen, and when Euphrates, think 
of Eutychio, and Syivanus, when Alciphron, of Tropaeo- 
phorus, when Xcnophon, of Crito, or Severus. And 
when thou doest look upon thyself, fancy unto thyself 
some one or other of the Caesars ; and so for every one, 
some one or other that hath been for estate and profes 
sion answerable unto him. Then let this come to thy 
mind at the same time; and where now are they all? 
Nowhere or anywhere ? For so shalt thou at all times 
be able to perceive how all worldly things are but as the 
smoke, that vanisheth away : or, indeed, mere nothing. 
Especially when thou shalt call to mind this also, that 
whatsoever is once changed, shall never be again as 
long as the world endureth. And thou then, how long 

His Meditations 131 

shalt thou endure? And why doth it not suffice thee, 
if virtuously, and as becometh thee, thou mayest pass 
that portion of time, how little soever it be, that is 
allotted unto thee ? 

XXXII. What a subject, and what a course of life is 
it, that thou doest so much desire to be rid of. For all 
these things, what are they, but fit objects for an under 
standing, that beholdeth everything according to its true 
nature, to exercise itself upon? Be patient, therefore, 
until that (as a strong stomach that turns all things into 
his own nature ; and as a great fire that turneth in flame 
and light, whatsoever thou doest cast into it) thou have 
made these things also familiar, and as it were natural 
unto thee. 

XXXIII. Let it not be in any man s power, to say 
truly of thee, that thou art not truly simple, or sincere 
and open, or not good. Let him be deceived whosoever 
he be that shall have any such opinion of thee. For all 
this doth depend of thee. For who is it that should 
hinder thee from being either truly simple or good? 
Do thou only resolve rather not to live, than not to be 
such. For indeed neither doth it stand with reason that 
he should live that is not such. What then is it that 
may upon this present occasion according to best reason 
and discretion, either be said or done ? For whatsoever 
it be, it is in thy power either to do it, or to say it, and 
therefore seek not any pretences, as though thou wert 
hindered. Thou wilt never cease groaning and com 
plaining, until such time as that, what pleasure is unto 
the voluptuous, be unto thee, to do in everything that 
presents itself, whatsoever may be done conformably 
and agreeably to the proper constitution of man, or, to 
man as he is a man. For thou must account that 
pleasure, whatsoever it be, that thou mayest do accord 
ing to thine own nature. And to do this, every place 
will fit thee. Unto the (ylindrus, or roller, it is not 
granted to move everywhere according to its own proper 
motion, as neither unto the water, nor unto the fire, nor 
unto any other thing, that either is merely natural, or 
natural and sensitive ; but not rational. For many 

132 Marcus Aurelius 

things there be that can hinder their operations. But 
of the mind and understanding this is the proper privi 
lege, that according to its own nature, and as it will 
itself, it can pass through every obstacle that it finds, 
and keep straight on forwards. Setting therefore before 
thine eyes this happiness and felicity of thy mind, 
whereby it is able to pass through all things, and is 
capable of all motions, whether as the fire, upwards ; or 
as the stone downwards, or as the cylindrus through that 
which is sloping : content thyself with it, and seek not 
after any other thing. For all other kind of hindrances 
that are not hindrances of thy mind either they are 
proper to the body, or merely proceed from the opinion, 
reason not making that resistance that it should, but 
basely, and cowardly suffering itself to be foiled ; and 
of themselves can neither wound, nor do any hurt at 
all. Else must he of necessity, whosoever he be that 
meets with any of them, become worse than he was 
before. For so is it in all other subjects, that that is 
thought hurtful unto them, whereby they are made 
worse. But here contrariwise, man (if he make that 
good use of them that he should) is rather the better 
and the more praiseworthy for any of those kind of 
hindrances, than otherwise. But generally remember 
that nothing can hurt a natural citizen, that is not 
hurtful unto the city itself, nor anything hurt the city, 
that is not hurtful unto the law itself. But none of 
these casualties, or external hindrances, do hurt the 
law itself; or, are contrary to that course of justice and 
equity, by which public societies are maintained : neither 
therefore do they hurt either city or citizen. 

XXXIV. As he that is bitten by a mad dog, is afraid 
of everything almost that he seeth : so unto him, whom 
the dogmata have once bitten, or in whom true know 
ledge hath made an impression, everything almost that 
he sees or reads be it never so short or ordinary, doth 
afford a good memento ; to put him out of all grief and 
fear, as that of the poet, The winds blow upon the 
trees, and their leaves fall upon the ground. Then do 
the trees begin to bud again, and by the spring-time 

His Meditations 133 

they put forth new branches. So is the generation of 
men ; some come into the world, and others go out of 
it. Of these leaves then thy children are. And they 
also that applaud thee so gravely, or, that applaud thy 
speeches, with that their usual acclamation, u^toTrto-Tws, O 
wisely spoken ! and speak well of thee, as on the other 
side, they that stick not to curse thee, they that privately 
and secretly dispraise and deride thee, they also are 
but leaves. And they also that shall follow, in whose 
memories the names of men famous after death, is 
preserved, they are but leaves neither. For even so is 
it of all these worldly things. Their spring comes, and 
they are put forth. Then blows the wind, and they go 
down. And then in lieu of them grow others out of the 
wood or common matter of all things, like unto them. 
But, to endure but for a while, is common unto all. 
Why then shouldest thou so earnestly either seek after 
these things, or fly from them, as though they should 
endure for ever ? Yet a little while, and thine eyes will 
be closed up, and for him that carries thee to thy grave 
shall another mourn within a while after. 

XXXV. A good eye must be good to see whatsoever 
is* to be seen, and not green things only. For that is 
proper to sore eyes. So must a good ear, and a good 
smell be ready for whatsoever is either to be heard, or 
smelt : and a good stomach as indifferent to all kinds of 
food, as a millstone is, to whatsoever she was made for, 
to grind. As ready therefore must a sound understanding 
be for whatsoever shall happen. But he that saith, O 
that my children might live ! and, O that all men might 
commend me for whatsoever I do ! is an eye that seeks 
after green things ; or as teeth, after that which is tender. 

XXXVI. There is not any man that is so happy in his 
death, but that some of those that are by him when he 
dies, will be ready to rejoice at his supposed calamity. 
Is it one that was virtuous and wise indeed? will there 
not some one or other be found, who thus will say to 
himself, Well now at last shall I be at rest from this 
pedagogue. He did not indeed otherwise trouble us 
much : but I know well enough that in his heart, he did 

134 Marcus Aurelius 

much condemn us. Thus will they speak of the virtuous. 
But as for us, alas ! how many things be there, for which 
there be many that glad would be to be rid of us. This 
therefore if thou shalt think of whensoever thou diest, 
thou shalt die the more willingly, when thou shalt think 
with thyself, I am now to depart from that world, 
wherein those that have been my nearest friends and 
acquaintances, they whom I have so much suffered for, 
so often prayed for, and for whom I have taken such 
care, even they would have me die, hoping that after 
my death they shall live happier, than they did before. 
What then should any man desire to continue here any 
longer ? Nevertheless, whensoever thou diest, thou 
must not be less kind and loving unto them for it ; but 
as before, see them, continue to be their friend, to wish 
them well, and meekly, and gently to carry thyself to 
wards them, but yet so that on the other side, it make 
thee not the more unwilling to die. But as it fareth with 
them that die an easy quick death, whose soul is soon 
separated from their bodies, so must thy separation 
from them be. To these had nature joined and annexed 
me : now she parts us ; I am ready to depart, as from 
friends and kinsmen, but yet without either reluctancy 
or compulsion. For this also is according to Nature. 

XXXVII. Use thyself, as often, as thou seest any 
man do anything, presently (if it be possible) to say 
unto thyself, What is this man s end in this his action ? 
But begin this course with thyself first of all, and 
diligently examine thyself concerning whatsoever thou 

XXXVIII. Remember, that that which sets a man at 
work, and hath power over the affections to draw them 
either one way, or the other way, is not any external thing 
properly, but that which is hidden within every man s 
dogmata, and opinions : That, that is rhetoric ; that is 
life ; that (to speak true) is man himself. As for thy 
body, which as a vessel, or a case, compasseth thee 
about, and the many and curious instruments that it 
hath annexed unto it, let them not trouble thy thoughts. 
For of themselves they are but as a carpenter s axe, but 

His Meditations 135 

that they are born with us, and naturally sticking unto us. 
But otherwise, without the inward cause that hath power 
to move them, and to restrain them, those parts are of 
themselves of no more use unto us. than the shuttle is of 
itself to the weaver, or the pen to the writer, or the whip 
to the coachman. 


Marcus Aurelius 


I. The natural properties, and privileges of a reasonable 
soul are : That she seeth herself ; that she can order, and 
compose herself: that she makes herself as she will her 
self: that she reaps her own fruits whatsoever, whereas 
plants, trees, unreasonable creatures, what fruit soever 
(be it either fruit properly, or analogically only) they 
bear, they bear them unto others, and not to themselves. 
Again ; whensoever, and wheresoever, sooner or later, 
her life doth end, she hath her own end nevertheless. 
For it is not with her, as with dancers and players, who 
if they be interrupted in any part of their action, the 
whole action must needs be imperfect : but she in what 
part of time or action soever she be surprised, can make 
that which she hath in her hand whatsoever it be, com 
plete and full, so that she may depart with that comfort, 
I have lived ; neither want I anything of that which 
properly did belong unto me. Again, she compasseth 
the whole world, and penetrateth into the vanity, and 
mere outside (wanting substance and solidity) of it, and 
stretcheth herself unto the infiniteness of eternity; and 
the revolution or restoration of all things after a certain 
period of time, to the same state and place as before, she 
fetcheth about, and doth comprehend in herself; and 
considers withal, and sees clearly this, that neither they 
that shall follow us, shall see any new thing, that we 
have not seen, nor they that went before, anything more 
than we : but that he that is once come to forty (if he 
have any wit at all) can in a manner (for that they are 
all of one kind) see all things, both past and future. As 
proper is it, and natural to the soul of man to love her 
neighbour, to be true and modest ; and to regard nothing 
so much as herself : which is also the property of the law : 

His Meditations 137 

whereby by the way it appears, that sound reason and 
justice comes all to one, and therefore that justice is the 
chief thing, that reasonable creatures ought to propose 
unto themselves as their end. 

II. A pleasant song or dance; the Pancratiast s exer 
cise, sports that thou art wont to be much taken with, 
thou shalt easily contemn ; if the harmonious voice thou 
shalt divide into so many particular sounds whereof it 
doth consist, and of every one in particular shall ask 
thyself, whether this or that sound is it, that doth so 
conquer thee. For thou wilt be ashamed of it. And 
so for shame, if accordingly thou shalt consider it, every 
particular motion and posture by itself: and so for the 
wrestler s exercise too. Generally then, whatsoever it 
be, besides virtue, and those things that proceed from 
virtue that thou art subject to be much affected with, 
remember presently thus to divide it, and by this kind 
of division, in each particular to attain unto the con 
tempt of the whole. This thou must transfer and apply 
to thy whole life also. 

III. That soul which is ever ready, even now pre 
sently (if need be) from the body, whether by way of 
extinction, or dispersion, or continuation in another 
place and estate to be separated, how blessed and happy 
is it ! But this readiness of it, it must proceed, not 
from an obstinate and peremptory resolution of the 
mind, violently and passionately set upon opposition, as 
Christians are wont ; but from a peculiar judgment ; with 
discretion and gravity, so that others may be persuaded 
also and drawn to the like example, but without any 
noise and passionate exclamations. 

IV. Have I done anything charitably? then am I 
benefited by it. See that this upon all occasions may 
present itself unto thy mind, and never cease to think 
of it. What is thy profession ? to be good. And how 
should this be well brought to pass, but by certain 
theorems and doctrines ; some concerning the nature 
of the universe, and some concerning the proper and 
particular constitution of man ? 

V. Tragedies were at first brought in and instituted, 


Marcus Aurelius 

to put men in mind of worldly chances and casualties : 
that these things in the ordinary course of nature did so 
happen : that men that were much pleased and delighted 
by such accidents upon this stage, would not by the 
same things in a greater stage be grieved and afflicted : 
for here you see what is the end of all such things ; and 
that even they that cry out so mournfully to Cithaeron, 
must bear them for all their cries and exclamations, as 
well as others. And in very truth many good things 
are spoken by these poets ; as that (for example) is an 
excellent passage : But if so be that I and my two 
children be neglected by the Gods, they have some 
reason even for that, &c. And again, It will but 
little avail thee to storm and rage against the things 
themselves, &c. Again, To reap one s life, as a ripe 
ear of corn ; and whatsoever else is to be found in them, 
that is of the same kind. After the tragedy, the ancient 
comedy was brought in, which had the liberty to inveigh 
against personal vices ; being therefore through this her 
freedom and liberty of speech of very good use and 
effect, to restrain men from pride and arrogancy. To 
which end it was, that Diogenes took also the same 
liberty. After these, what were either the Middle, or 
New Comedy admitted for, but merely, (or for the most 
part at least) for the delight and pleasure of curious and 
excellent imitation? It will steal away; look to it, 
&c. Why, no man denies, but that these also have 
some good things whereof that may be one : but the 
whole drift and foundation of that kind of dramatical 
poetry, what is it else, but as we have said ? 

VI. How clearly doth it appear unto thee, that no 
other course of thy life could fit a true philosopher s 
practice better, than this very course, that thou art now 
already in ? 

VII. A branch cut off from the continuity of that 
which was next unto it, must needs be cut off from the 
whole tree : so a man that is divided from another man, 
is divided from the whole society. A branch is cut off 
by another, but he that hates and is averse, cuts himself 
off from his neighbour, and knows not that at the same 

His Meditations 139 

time he divides himself from the whole body, or corpora 
tion. But herein is the gift and mercy of God, the 
Author of this society, in that, once cut off we may grow 
together and become part of the whole again. But if 
this happen often the misery is that the further a man is 
run in this division, the harder he is to be reunited and 
restored again : and however the branch which, once cut 
off, afterwards was graffed in, gardeners can tell you is 
not like that which sprouted together at first, and still 
continued in the unity of the body. 

VIII. To grow together like fellow branches in matter 
of good correspondence and affection ; but not in matter 
of opinions. They that shall oppose thee in thy right 
courses, as it is not in their power to divert thee from 
thy good action, so neither let it be to divert thee from 
thy good affection towards them. But be it thy care to 
keep thyself constant in both ; both in a right judgment 
and action, and in true meekness towards them, that 
either shall do their endeavour to hinder thee, or at least 
will be displeased with thee for what thoi>. hast done. 
For to fail in either (either in the one to give over for 
fear, or in the other to forsake thy natural affection 
towards him, who by nature is both thy friend and thy 
kinsman) is equally base, and much savouring of the 
disposition of a cowardly fugitive soldier. 

IX. It is not possible that any nature should be in 
ferior unto art, since that all arts imitate nature. If this 
be so ; that the most perfect and general nature of all 
natures should in her operation come short of the skill 
of arts, is most improbable. Now common is it to all 
arts, to make that which is worse for the better s sake. 
Much more then doth the common nature do the same. 
Hence is the first ground of justice. From justice all 
other virtues have their existence. For justice cannot 
be preserved, if either we settle our minds and affections 
upon worldly things ; or be apt to be deceived, or rash, 
and inconstant. 

X. The things themselves (which either to get or to 
avoid thou art put to so much trouble) come not unto 
thee themselves ; but thou iu a manner goest unto them. 

140 Marcus Aurelius 

Let then thine own judgment and opinion concerning 
those thi gs be at rest ; and as for the things themselves, 
they stand still and quiet, without any noise or stir at 
all ; and so shall all pursuing and flying cease. 

XI. Then is the soul as Empedocles doth liken it, 
like unto a sphere or globe, when she is all of one form 
and figure : when she neither greedily stretcheth out 
herself unto anything, nor basely contracts herself, or 
lies flat and dejected ; but shineth all with light, whereby 
she does see and behold the true nature, both that of 
the universe, and her own in particular. 

XII. Will any contemn me? let him look to that, 
upon what grounds he does it : my care shall be that 
I may never be found either doing or speaking anything 
that doth truly deserve contempt. Will any hate me ? 
let him look to that. I for my part will be kind and 
loving unto all, and even unto him that hates me, whom 
soever he be, will I be ready to show his error, not by 
way of exprobation or ostentation of my patience, but 
ingenuously and meekly : such as was that famous 
Phocion, if so be that he did not dissemble. For it 
is inwardly that these things must be : that the Gods 
who look inwardly, and not upon the outward appear 
ance, may behold a man truly free from all indignation 
and grief. For what hurt can it be unto thee whatsoever 
any man else doth, as long as thou maycst do that which 
is pioper and suitable to thine own nature? Wilt not 
thou (a man wholly appointed to be both what, and as 
the common good shall require) accept of that which 
is now seasonable to the nature of the universe? 

XIII. They contemn one another, and yet they seek 
to please one another : and whilest they seek to surpass 
one another in worldly pomp and greatness, they most 
debase and prostitute themselves in their better part one 
to another. 

XIV. How rotten and insincere is he, that saith, I am 
resolved to carry myself hereafter towards you with all 
ingenuity and simplicity. O man, what doest thou 
mean! what needs this profession of thine? the thing 
itself will show it. It ought to be written upon thy 

His Meditations 141 

forehead. No sooner thy voice is heard, than thy 
countenance must be able to show what is in thy mind : 
even as he that is loved knows presently by the looks of 
his sweetheart what is in her mind. Such must he be 
for all the world, that is truly simple and good, as he 
whose arm-holes are offensive, that whosoever stands 
by, as soon as ever he comes near him, may as it were 
smell him whether he will or no. But the affectation of 
simplicity is nowise laudable. There is nothing more 
shameful than perfidious friendship. Above all things, 
that must be avoided. However true goodness, sim 
plicity, and kindness cannot so be hidden, but that as 
we have already said in the very eyes and countenance 
they will show themselves. 

XV. To live happily is an inward power of the soul, 
when she is affected with indifferency, towards those 
things that are by their nature indifferent. To be thus 
affected she must consider all worldly objects both 
divided and whole : remembering withal that no object 
can of itself beget any opinion in us, neither can come 
to us, but stands without still and quiet ; but that 
we ourselves beget, and as it were print in ourselves 
opinions concerning them. Now it is in our power, 
not to print them ; and if they creep in and lurk in 
some corner, it is in our power to wipe them off. Re 
membering moreover, that this care and circumspection 
of thine, is to continue but for a while, and then thy 
life will be at an end. And what should hinder, but 
that thou mayest do well with all these things ? For 
if they be according to nature, rejoice in them, and let 
them be pleasing and acceptable unto thee. But if they 
be against nature, seek thou that which is according to 
thine own nature, and whether it be for thy credit or 
no, use all possible speed for the attainment of it : for 
no man ought to be blamed, for seeking his own good 
and happiness. 

XVI. Of everything thou must consider from whence 
it came, of what things it doth consist, and into what it 
will be changed : what will be the nature of it, or what 
it will be like unto when it is changed ; and that it can 

142 Marcus Aurelius 

suffer no hurt by this change. And as for other men s 
either foolishness or wickedness, that it may not trouble 
and grieve thee ; first generally thus ; What reference 
have I unto these ? and that we are all born for one 
another s good : then more particularly after another 
consideration ; as a ram is first in a flock of sheep, and 
a bull in a herd of cattle, so am I born to rule over 
them. Begin yet higher, even from this : if atoms be 
not the beginning of all things, than which to believe 
nothing can be more absurd, then must we needs grant 
that there is a nature, that doth govern the universe. 
If such a nature, then are all worse things made for the 
better s sake ; and all better for one another s sake. 
Secondly, what manner of men they be, at board, and 
upon their beds, and so forth. But above all things, 
how they are forced by their opinions that they hold, to 
do what they do ; and even those things that they do, 
with what pride and self-conceit they do them. Thirdly, 
that if they do these things rightly, thou hast no reason 
to be grieved. But if not rightly, it must needs be that 
they do them against their wills, and through mere 
ignorance. For as, according to Plato s opinion, no 
soul doth willingly err, so by consequent neither doth 
it anything otherwise than it ought, but against her will. 
Therefore are they grieved, whensoever they hear them 
selves charged, either of injustice, or unconscionableness, 
or covetousness, or in general, of any injurious kind of 
dealing towards their neighbours. Fourthly, that thou 
thyself doest transgress in many things, and art even 
such another as they are. And though perchance thou 
doest forbear the very act of some sins, yet hast thou in 
thyself an habitual disposition to them, but that either 
through fear, or vainglory, or some such other ambitious 
foolish respect, thou art restrained. Fifthly, that whether 
they have sinned or no, thou doest not understand per 
fectly. For many things are done by way of discreet 
policy ; and generally a man must know many things 
first, before he be able truly and judiciously to judge of 
another man s action. Sixthly, that whensoever thou 
doest take on grievously, or makest great woe, little 

His Meditations 143 

doest thou remember then that a man s life is but for a 
moment of time, and that within a while we shall all be 
in our graves. Seventhly, that it is not the sins and 
transgressions themselves that trouble us properly ; for 
they have their existence in their minds and under 
standings only, that commit them ; but our own opinions 
concerning those sins. Remove then, and be content 
to part with that conceit of thine, that it is a grievous 
thing, and thou hast removed thine anger. But how 
should I remove it ? How ? reasoning with thyself that 
it is not shameful. For if that which is shameful, be 
not the only true evil that is, thou also wilt be driven 
whilest thou doest follow the common instinct of nature, 
to avoid that which is evil, to commit many unjust 
things, and to become a thief, and anything, that will 
make to the attainment of thy intended worldly ends. 
Eighthly, how many things may and do oftentimes follow 
upon such fits of anger and grief ; far more grievous in 
themselves, than those very things which we are so 
grieved or angry for. Ninthly, that meekness is a thing 
unconquerable, if it be true and natural, and not affected 
or hypocritical. For how shall even the most fierce and 
malicious that thou shalt conceive, be able to hold on 
against thee, if thou shalt still continue meek and loving 
unto him ; and that even at that time, when he is about 
to do thee wrong, thou shalt be well disposed, and in 
good temper, with all meekness to teach him, and to 
instruct him better? As for example; My son, we 
were not born for this, to hurt and annoy one another ; 
it will be thy hurt not mine, my son : and so to show 
him forcibly and fully, that it is so in very deed : and 
that neither bees do it one to another, nor any other 
creatures that are naturally sociable. But this thou 
must do, not scoffingly, not by way of exprobation, but 
tenderly without any harshness of words. Neither must 
thou do it by way of exercise, or ostentation, that they 
that are by and hear thee, may admire thee : but so 
always that nobody be privy to it, but himself alone : 
yea, though there be more present at the same time. 
These nine particular heads, as so many gifts from the 

144 Marcus Aureiius 

Muses, see that thou remember well : and begin one 
day, whilest thou art yet alive, to be a man indeed. 
But on the other side thou must take heed, as much to 
flatter them, as to be angry with them : for both are 
equally uncharitable, and equally hurtful. And in thy 
passions, take it presently to thy consideration, that to 
be angry is not the part of a man, but that to be meek 
and gentle, as it savours of more humanity, so of more 
manhood. That in this, there is strength and nerves, 
or vigour and fortitude : whereof anger and indignation 
is altogether void. For the nearer everything is unto 
unpassionateness, the nearer it is unto power. And as 
grief doth proceed from weakness, so doth anger. For 
both, both he that is angry and that grieveth, have 
received a wound, and cowardly have as it were yielded 
themselves unto their affections. If thou wilt have a 
tenth also, receive this tenth gift from Hercules the 
guide and leader of the Muses : that is a mad man s 
part, to look that there should be no wicked men in 
the world, because it is impossible. Now for a man to 
brook well enough, that there should be wicked men in 
the world, but not to endure that any should trans 
gress against himself, is against all equity, and indeed 

XVII. Four several dispositions or inclinations there 
be of the mind and understanding, which to be aware of, 
thou must carefully observe : and whensoever thou doest 
discover them, thou must rectify them, saying to thyself 
concerning every one of them, This imagination is not 
necessary ; this is uncharitable : this thou shall speak as 
another man s slave, or instrument ; than which nothing 
can be more senseless and absurd : for the fourth, thou 
shalt sharply check and upbraid thyself, for that thou 
doest suffer that more divine part in thee, to become 
subject and obnoxious to that more ignoble part of thy 
body, and the gross lusts and concupiscences thereof. 

XVIII. What portion soever, either of air or fire there 
be in thee, although by nature it tend upwards, sub 
mitting nevertheless to the ordinance of the universe, 
it abides here below in this mixed body. So whatso- 

His Meditations 145 

ever is in thee, either earthy, or humid, although by 
nature it tend downwards, yet is it against its nature 
both raised upwards, and standing, or consistent. So 
obedient are even the elements themselves to the uni 
verse, abiding patiently wheresoever (though against 
their nature) they are placed, until the sound as it were 
of their retreat, and separation. Is it not a grievous 
thing then, that thy reasonable part only should be 
disobedient, and should not endure to keep its place : 
yea though it be nothing enjoined that is contrary unto 
it, but that only which is according to its nature? For 
we cannot say of it when it is disobedient, as we say of 
the fire, or air, that it tends upwards towards its proper 
element, for then goes it the quite contrary way. For 
the motion of the mind to any injustice, or incontinency, 
or to sorrow, or to fear, is nothing else but a separation 
from nature. Also when the mind is grieved for any 
thing that is happened by the divine providence, then 
doth it likewise forsake its own place. For it was 
ordained unto holiness and godliness, which specially 
consist in an humble submission to God and His 
providence in all things ; as well as unto justice : these 
also being part of those duties, which as naturally 
sociable, we are bound unto ; and without which 
we cannot happily converse one with another : yea 
and the very ground and fountain indeed of all just 

XIX. He that hath not one and the self-same general 
end always as long as he liveth, cannot possibly be one 
and the self-same man always. But this will not suffice 
except thou add also what ought to be this general end. 
For as the general conceit and apprehension of all those 
things which upon no certain ground are by the greater 
part of men deemed good, cannot be uniform and agree 
able, but that only which is limited and restrained by 
some certain proprieties and conditions, as of community : 
that nothing be conceived good, which is not commonly 
and publicly good : so must the end also that we propose 
unto ourselves, be common and sociable. For he that 
doth direct all his own private motions and purposes to 


Marcus Aurelius 

that end, all his actions will be agreeable and uniform ; 
and by that means will be still the same man. 

XX. Remember the fable of the country mouse and 
the city mouse, and the great fright and terror that this 
was put into. 

XXI. Socrates was wont to call the common conceits 
and opinions of men, the common bugbears of the 
world : the proper terror of silly children. 

XXII. The Lacedaemonians at their public spectacles 
were wont to appoint seats and forms for their strangers 
in the shadow, they themselves were content to sit any 

XXIII. What Socrates answered unto Perdiccas, why 
he did not come unto him, Lest of all deaths I should 
die the worst kind of death, said he : that is, not able 
to requite the good that hath been done unto me. 

XXIV. In the ancient mystical letters of the Ephesians, 
there was an item, that a man should always have in his 
mind some one or other of the ancient worthies. 

XXV. The Pythagoreans were wont betimes in the 
morning the first thing they did, to look up unto the 
heavens, to put themselves in mind of them who con 
stantly and invariably did perform their task : as also to 
put themselves in mind of orderliness, or good order, 
and of purity, and of naked simplicity. For no star or 
planet hath any cover before it 

XXVI. How Socrates looked, when he was fain to 
gird himself with a skin, Xanthippe his wife having taken 
away his clothes, and carried them abroad with her, and 
what he said to his fellows and friends, who were 
ashamed ; and out of respect to him, did retire them 
selves when they saw him thus decked. 

XXVII. In matter of writing or reading thou must 
needs be taught before thou can do either : much more in 
matter of life. For thou art born a mere slave, to thy 
senses and brutish affections ; destitute without teaching 
of all true knowledge and sound reason. 

XXVIII. My heart smiled within me. They will 
accuse even virtue herself, with heinous and opprobrious 

His Meditations 147 

XXIX. As they that long after figs in winter when 
they cannot be had ; so are they that long after children, 
before they be granted them. 

XXX. As often as a father kisseth his child, he 
should say secretly with himself (said Epictetus, ) to 
morrow perchance shall he die. But these words be 
ominous. No words ominous (said he) that signify 
anything that is natural : in very truth and deed not 
more ominous than this, to cut down grapes when they 
are ripe. Green grapes, ripe grapes, dried grapes, or 
raisins : so many changes and mutations of one thing, 
not into that which was not absolutely, but rather so 
many several changes and mutations, not into that which 
hath no being at all, but into that which is not yet in 

XXXI. Of the free will there is no thief or robber : 
out of Epictetus ; Whose is this also : that we should 
find a certain art and method of assenting , and that we 
should always observe with great care and heed the 
inclinations of our minds, that they may always be with 
their due restraint and reservation, always charitable, and 
according to the true worth of every present object. And 
as for earnest longing, that we should altogether avoid 
it : and to use averseness in those things only, that 
wholly depend of our own wills. It is not about ordinary 
petty matters, believe it, that all our strife and conten 
tion is, but whether, with the vulgar, we should be mad, 
or by the help of philosophy wise and sober, said he. 

XXXII. Socrates said, What will you have? the 
souls of reasonable, or unreasonable creatures ? Of 
reasonable. But what ? Of those whose reason is 
sound and perfect? or of those whose reason is vitiated 
and corrupted? Of those whose reason is sound and 
perfect. Why then labour ye not for s ich? Because 
we have them already. What then do ye so strive and 
contend between you? 


Marcus Aurelius 


I. Whatsoever thou doest hereafter aspire unto, thou 
mayest even now enjoy and possess, if thou doest not 
envy thyself thine own happiness. And that will be, if 
thou shalt forget all that is past, and for the future, refer 
thyself wholly to the Divine Providence, and shalt bend 
and apply all thy present thoughts and intentions to 
holiness and righteousness. To holiness, in accepting 
willingly whatsoever is sent by the Divine Providence, 
as being that which the nature of the universe hath ap 
pointed unto thee, which also hath appointed thee for 
that, whatsoever it be. To righteousness, in speaking 
the truth freely, and without ambiguity ; and in doing 
all things justly and discreetly. Now in this good 
course, let not other men s either wickedness, or opinion, 
or voice hinder thee : no, nor the sense of this thy 
pampered mass of flesh : for let that which suffers, look 
to itself. If therefore whensoever the time of thy depart 
ing shall come, thou shalt readily leave all things, and 
shalt respect thy mind only, and that divine part of 
thine, and this shall be thine only fear, not that some 
time or other thou shalt cease to live, but thou shalt 
never begin to live according to nature : then shalt thou 
be a man indeed, worthy of that world, from which thou 
hadst thy beginning ; then shalt thou cease to be a 
stranger in thy country, and to wonder at those things 
that happen daily, as things strange and unexpected, and 
anxiously to depend of divers things that are not in thy 

II. God beholds our minds and understandings, bare 
and naked from these material vessels, and outsides, and 
all earthly dross. For with His simple and pure under 
standing, He pierceth into our inmost and purest parts, 

His Meditations 149 

which from His, as it were by a water pipe and channel, 
first flowed and issued. This if thou also shalt use to 
do, thou shalt rid thyself of that manifold luggage, where 
with thou art round about encumbered. For he that 
does regard neither his body, nor his clothing, nor his 
dwelling, nor any such external furniture, must needs 
gain unto himself great rest and ease. Three things 
there be in all, which thou doest consist of; thy body, 
thy life, and thy mind. Of these the two former, are so 
far forth thine, as that thou art bound to take care for 
them. But the third alone is that which is properly 
thine. If then thou shalt separate from thyself, that is 
from thy mind, whatsoever other men either do or say, 
or whatsoever thou thyself hast heretofore either done 
or said ; and all troublesome thoughts concerning the 
future, and whatsoever, (as either belonging to thy body 
or life :) is without the jurisdiction of thine own will, and 
whatsoever in the ordinary course of human chances and 
accidents doth happen unto thee ; so that thy mind 
(keeping herself loose and free from all outward coinci 
dental entanglements ; always in a readiness to depart :) 
shall live by herself, and to herself, doing that which is 
just, accepting whatsoever doth happen, and speaking 
the truth always ; if, I say, thou shah separate from thy 
mind, whatsoever by sympathy might adhere unto it, 
and all time both past and future, and shalt make thyself 
in all points and respects, like unto Empedocles his 
allegorical sphere, all round and circular, &c., and 
shalt think of no longer life than that which is now pre 
sent : then shalt thou be truly able to pass the remainder 
of thy days without troubles and distractions ; nobly and 
generously disposed, and in good favour and correspon 
dency, with that spirit which is within thee. 

III. I have often wondered how it should come to 
pass, that every man loving himself best, should more 
regard other men s opinions concerning himself, than 
his own. For if any God or grave master standing by, 
should command any of us to think nothing by himself, 
but what he should presently speak out ; no man were 
able to endure it, though but for one day. Thus do we 

150 Marcus Aurelius 

fear more what our neighbours will think of us, than 
what we ourselves. 

IV. How comes it to pass that the Gods having 
ordered all other things so well and so lovingly, should 
be overseen in this one only thing, that whereas there 
hath been some very good men, that have made many 
covenants as it were with God, and by many holy 
actions, and outward services contracted a kind of 
familiarity with Him; that these men when once they 
are dead, should never be restored to life, but be extinct 
for ever. But this thou mayest be sure of, that this (if 
it be so indeed) would never have been so ordered by 
the Gods, had it been fit otherwise. For certainly it 
was possible, had it been more just so : and had it been 
according to nature, the nature of the universe would 
easily have borne it. But now because it is not so, (if 
so be that it be not so indeed) be therefore confident 
that it was not fit it should be so. For thou seest thy 
self, that now seeking after this matter, how freely thou 
doest argue and contest with God. But were not the 
Gods both just and good in the highest degree, thou 
durst not thus reason with them. Now if just and good, 
it could not be that in the creation of the world, they 
should either unjustly or unreasonably oversee anything. 

V. Use thyself even unto those things that thou doest 
at first despair of. For the left hand we see, which for 
the most part lieth idle because not used ; yet doth it 
hold the bridle with more strength than the right, because 
it ha-h been used unto it. 

VI. Let these be the objects of thy ordinary medita 
tion : to consider, what manner of men both for soul and 
body we ought to be, whensoever death shall surprise us : 
the shortness of this our mortal life: the immense vast- 
ness of tlie time that hath been before, and will be after 
us : the frailty of every worldly material object : all these 
things to consider, and behold clearly in themselves, all 
disguisement of external outside being removed and 
taken away. Again, to consider the efficient causes of 
all things : the proper ends and references of all actions: 
what pain is in itself, what pleasure, what death : what 

Mis Meditations 151 

fame or honour, how every man is the true and proper 
ground of his own rest and tranquillity, and that no man 
can truly be hindered by any other: that all is but con 
ceit and opinion. As for the use of thy dogmata, thou 
must carry thyself in the praciice of them, rather like 
unto a pancratiastes, or one that at the same time both 
fights and wrestles with hands and feet, than a gladiator. 
For this, if he lose his sword that he fights with, he is 
gone : whereas the other hath still his hand free, which 
he may easily turn and manage at his will. 

VII. All worldly things thou must behold and consider, 
dividing them into matter, form, and reference, or their 
proper end. 

VIII. How happy is man in this his power that hath 
been granted unto him : that he needs not do anything 
but what God shall approve, and that he may embrace 
contentedly, whatsoever God doth send unto him? 

IX. Whatsoever doth happen in the ordinary course 
and consequence of natural events, neither the Gods, 
(for it is not possible, that they either wittingly or un 
wittingly should do anything amiss) nor men, (for it is 
through ignorance, and therefore against their wills that 
they do anything amiss) must be accused. None then 
must be accused. 

X. How ridiculous and strange is he, that wonders at 
anything that happens in this life in the ordinary course 
of nature ! 

XI. Either fate, (and that either an absolute necessity, 
and unavoidable decree ; or a placable and flexible 
Providence) or all is a mere casual confusion, void of all 
order and government. If an absolute and unavoidable 
necessity, why doest thou resist ? If a placable and 
exorable Providence, make thyself worthy of the divine 
help and assistance. If all be a mere confusion without 
any moderator, or governor, then hast thou reason to 
congratulate thyself, that in such a general flood of con 
fusion thou thyself hast obtained a reasonable faculty, 
whereby thou mayest govern thine own life and actions. 
But if thou beest carried away with the flood, it must be 
thy body perchance, or thy life, or some other thing that 

152 Marcus Aurelius 

belongs unto them that is carried away : thy mind and 
understanding cannot. Or should it be so, that the 
light of a candle indeed is still bright and lightsome 
until it be put out : and should truth, and righteousness, 
and temperance cease to shine in thee whilest thou thy 
self hast any being ? 

XII. At the conceit and apprehension that such and 
such a one hath sinned, thus reason with thyself, What 
do I know whether this be a sin indeed, as it seems to 
be ? But if it be, what do I know but that he himself 
hath already condemned himself for it ? And that is all 
one as if a man should scratch and tear his own face, an 
object of compassion rather than of anger. Again, that 
he that would not have a vicious man to sin, is like unto 
him that would not have moisture in the fig, nor children 
to weep, nor a horse to neigh, nor anything else that in 
the course of nature is necessary. For what shall he 
do that hath such an habit? If thou therefore beest 
powerful and eloquent, remedy it if thou canst. 

XIII. If it be not fitting, do it not. If it be not true, 
speak it not. Ever maintain thine own purpose and 
resolution free from all compulsion and necessity. 

XIV. Of everything that presents itself unto thee, to 
consider what the true nature of it is, and to unfold it, as 
it were, by dividing it into that which is formal : that 
which is material : the true use or end of it, and the just 
time that it is appointed to last. 

XV. It is high time for thee, to understand that there 
is somewhat in thee, better and more divine than either 
thy passions, or thy sensual appetites and affections. 
What is now the object of my mind, is it fear, or 
suspicion, or lust, or any such thing ? To do nothing 
rashly without some certain end ; let that be thy first 
care. The next, to have no other end than the common 
good. For, alas ! yet a little while, and thou art no 
more : no more will any, either of those things that now 
thou seest, or of those men that now are living, be any 
more. For all things are by nature appointed soon to 
be changed, turned, and corrupted, that other things 
might succeed in their room. 

His Meditations 153 

XVI. Remember that all is but opinion, and all 
opinion depends of the mind. Take thine opinion away, 
and then as a ship that hath stricken in within the arms 
and mouth of the harbour, a present calm ; all things 
safe and steady : a bay, not capable of any storms and 
tempests : as the poet hath it. 

XVII. No operation whatsoever it be, ceasing for a 
while, can be truly said to suffer any evil, because it is at 
an end. Neither can he that is the author of that opera 
tion ; for this very respect, because his operation is at 
an end, be said to suffer any evil. Likewise then, neither 
can the whole body of all our actions (which is our life) 
if in time it cease, be said to suffer any evil for this very 
reason, because it is at an end ; nor he truly be said to 
have been ill affected, that did put a period to this 
series of actions. Now this time or certain period, 
depends of the determination of nature : sometimes of 
particular nature, as when a man dieth old ; but of nature 
in general, however ; the parts whereof thus changing 
one after another, the whole world still continues fresh 
and new. Now that is ever best and most seasonable, 
which is for the good of the whole. Thus it appears 
that death of itself can neither be hurtful to any in 
particular, because it is not a shameful thing (for neither 
is it a thing that depends of our own will, nor of itself 
contrary to the common good) and generally, as it is 
both expedient and seasonable to the whole, that in that 
respect it must needs be good. It is that also, which is 
brought unto us by the order and appointment of the 
Divine Providence ; so that he whose will and mind 
in these things runs along with the Divine ordinance, 
and by this concurrence of his will and mind with the 
Divine Providence, is led and driven along, as it were 
by God Himself, may truly be termed and esteemed 
the #eo</>dpjTos, or divinely led and inspired. 

XVIII. These three things thou must have always in 
a readiness : first concerning thine own actions, whether 
thou doest nothing either idly, or otherwise, than justice 
and equity do require : and concerning those things that 
happen unto thee externally, that either they happen unto 

154 Marcus Aurelius 

thee by chance, or by providence ; of which two to accuse 
either, is equally against reason. Secondly, what like 
unto our bodies are wiriest yet rude and imperfect, until 
they be animated : and from their animation, until their 
expiration : of what things they are compounded, and into 
what things they shall be dissolved. Thirdly, how vain all 
things will appear unto thee when, from on high as it 
were, looking down, thou shalt contemplate all things 
upon earth, and the wonderful mutability, that they are 
subject unto : considering withal, the infinite both great 
ness and variety of things aerial and things celestial that 
are round about it. And that as often as thou shalt 
behold them, thou shalt still see the same : as the same 
things, so the same shortness of continuance of all those 
things. And, behold, these be the things that we are so 
proud and puffed up for. 

XIX. Cast away from thee opinion, and thou art safe. 
And what is it that hinders thee from casting of it away ? 
When thou art grieved at anything, hast thou forgotten 
that all things happen according to the nature of the 
universe ; and that him only it concerns, who is in fault ; 
and moreover, that what is now done, is that which from 
ever hath been done in the world, and will ever be done, 
and is now done everywhere : how nearly all men are 
allied one to another by a kindred not of blood, nor of 
seed, but of the same mind. Thou hast also forgotten 
that every man s mind partakes of the Deity, and issueth 
from thence ; and that no man can properly call any 
thing his own, no not his son, nor his body, nor his life ; 
for that they all proceed from that One who is the giver 
of all things : that all things are but opinion ; that no 
man lives properly, but that very instant of time which is 
now present. And therefore that no man whensoever 
he dieth can properly be said to lose any more, than an 
instant of time. 

XX. Let thy thoughts ever run upon them, who once 
for some one thing or other, were moved with extra 
ordinary indignation ; who were once in the highest 
pitch of either honour, or calamity ; or mutual hatred 
and enmity ; or of any other fortune or condition what- 

His Meditations 155 

soever. Then consider what s now become of all those 
things. All is turned to smoke ; all to ashes, and a 
mere fable ; and perchance not so much as a fable. 
As also whatsoever is of this nature, as Fabius Catuiinus 
in the field ; Lucius Lupus, and Scertinius, at Baiae ; 
Tiberius at Caprese : and Velius Rufus, and all such 
examples of vehement prosecution in worldly matters ; 
let these also run in thy mind at the same time ; aad 
how vile every object of such earnest and vehement 
prosecution is ; and how much more agreeable to true 
philosophy it is, for a man to carry himself in every 
matter that offers itself, justly, and moderately, as one 
that followeth the Gods with all simplicity. For, for a 
man to be proud and high conceited, that he is not 
proud and hign conceited, is of all kind of pride and 
presumption, the most intolerable. 

XXI. To them that ask thee, Where hast thou seen 
the Gods, or how knowest thou certainly that there be 
Gods, that thou art so devout in their worship ? I answer 
first of all, that even to the very eye, they are in some 
manner visible and apparent. Secondly, neither have 
I ever seen mine own soul, and yet I respect and honour 
it. So then for the Gods, by the daily experience that 
I have of their power and providence towards myself 
and others, I know certainly that they are, and therefore 
worship them. 

XXII. Herein doth consist happiness of life, for a 
man to know thoroughly the true nature of everything ; 
what is the matter, and what is the form of it : with all 
his heart and soul, ever to do that which is just, and to 
speak the truth. What then remaineth but to enjoy thy 
life in a course and coherence of good actions, one upon 
another immediately succeeding, and never interrupted, 
though for never so little a while ? 

XXIII. There is but one light of the sun, though 
it be intercepted by walls and mountains, and other 
thousand objects. There is but one common sub 
stance of the whole world, though it be concluded and 
restrained into several different bodies, in number in 
finite, There is but one common soul, though divided 

156 Marcus Aureiius 

into innumerable particular essences and natures. So is 
there but one common intellectual soul, though it seem 
to be divided. And as for all other parts of those 
generals which we have mentioned, as either sensitive 
souls or subjects, these of themselves (as naturally irra 
tional) have no common mutual reference one unto 
another, though many of them contain a mind, or reason 
able faculty in them, whereby they are ruled and governed. 
But of every reasonable mind, this the particular nature, 
that it hath reference to whatsoever is of her own kind 
and desireth to be united : neither can this common 
affection, or mutual unity and correspondency, be here 
intercepted or divided, or confined to particulars as 
those other common things are. 

XXIV. What doest thou desire ? To live long. What? 
To enjoy the operations of a sensitive soul ; or of iha 
appetitive faculty? or wouldst thou grow, and the* 
decrease again? Wouldst thou long be able to ulk, 
to think arid reason with thyself? Which of all trtcse 
seems unto thee a worthy object of thy desire? Now if 
of all these thou doest find that they be but little worth 
in themselves, proceed on unto the last, which is, in all 
things to follow (Jod and reason. But for a man to 
grieve that by death he shall be depnved of any of these 
things, is Loth against God and reason. 

XXV.^Wh** a small portion of vast and infinite 
eternity it is, that is allowed unto every one of us, and 
how sosn it ranisheth into the general age of the world : 
of the common substance, and of the common soul also 
what a sn^ftil portion IB allotted unto us : and in what a 
little clod of the whole earth (as it were) it is that thou 
doest crawl. After thou shalt rightly have considered 
these things with thyself, fancy not anything else in the 
world any more to be of any weight and moment but 
this, to do that only which thine own nature doth require ; 
and to conform thyself to that which the common nature 
doth afford. 

XXVI. What is the present estate of my under 
standing? For herein lieth all indeed. As for all 
other things, they are without the compass of mine 

His Meditations 157 

own will : and if without the compass of my will, then 
are they as dead things unto me, and as it were mere 

XXVII. To stir up a man to the contempt of death 
this among other things, is of good power and efficacy, 
that even they who esteemed pleasure to be happiness, 
and pain misery, did nevertheless many of them contemn 
death as much as any. And can death be terrible to 
him, to whom that only seems good, which in the ordi 
nary course of nature is seasonable? to him, to whom, 
whether his actions be many or few, so they be all good, 
is all one ; and who whether he behold the things of the 
world being always the same either for many years, or for 
few years only, is altogether indifferent ? O man ! as a 
citizen thou hast lived, and conversed in this great city 
the world. Whether just for so many years, or no, what 
is it unto thee ? Thou hast lived (thou mayest be sure) 
as long as the laws and orders of the city required ; 
which may be the common comfort of all. Why then 
should it be grievous unto thee, if (not a tyrant, nor an 
unjust judge, but) the same nature that brought thee in, 
doth now send thee out of the world? As if the praetor 
should fairly dismiss him from the stage, whom he had 
taken in to act a while. Oh, but the play is not yet at 
an end, there are but three acts yet acted of it ? Thou 
hast well said : for in matter of life, three acts is the 
whole play. Now to set a certain time to every man s 
acting, belongs unto him only, who as first he was of thy 
composition, so is now the cause of thy dissolution. As 
for thyself, thou hast to do with neither. Go thy ways 
then well pleased and contented : for so is He that 
dismisseth thee. 



M. CORNELIUS FRONTO was a Roman by descent, but 
of provincial birth, being native to Cirta, in Numidia. 
Thence he migrated to Rome in the reign of Hadrian, 
and became the most famous rhetorician of his day. 
As a pleader and orator he was counted by his con 
temporaries hardly inferior to Tully himself, and as a 
teacher his aid was sought for the noblest youths of 
Rome. To him was entrusted the education of M. 
Aurelius and of his colleague L. Verus in their boyhood ; 
and he was rewarded for his efforts by a seat in the 
Senate and the consular rank (A.D. 143). By the 
exercise of his profession he became wealthy ; and if 
he speaks of his means as not great, 2 he must be com 
paring his wealth with the grandees of Rome, not with 
the ordinary citizen. 

Before the present century nothing was known of the 
works of Fronto, except a grammatical treatise; but in 
1815 Cardinal Mai published a number of letters and 
some short essays of Fronto. which he had discovered 
in a palimpsest at Milan. Other parts of the same MS. 
he found later in the Vatican, the whole being collected 

1 References are made to the edition of Naber, Leipzig 
(Triibrier), 1867. a Ad Verum Imp. Aur. Cccs., ii. 7. 


160 Appendix 

and edited in the year 1823. We now possess parts 
of his correspondence with Antoninus Pius, with M. 
Aurelius, with L. Verus, and with certain of his friends, 
and also several rhetorical and historical fragments. 

Though none of the more ambitious works of Fronto 
have survived, there are enough to give proof of his 
powers. Never was a great literary reputation less 
deserved. It would be hard to conceive of anything 
more vapid than the style and conception of these 
letters ; clearly the man was a pedant without imagina 
tion or taste. Such indeed was the age he lived in, and 
it is no marvel that he was like to his age. But there 
must have been more in him than mere pedantry ; there 
was indeed a heart in the man, which Marcus found, 
and he found also a tongue which could speak the 
truth. Fronto s letters are by no means free from 
exaggeration and laudation, but they do not show that 
loathsome flattery which filled the Roman court. He 
really admires what he praises, and his way of saying 
so is not unlike what often passes for criticism at the 
present day. He is not afraid to reprove what he thinks 
amiss ; and the astonishment of Marcus at this will 
prove, if proof were needed, that he was not used to 
plain dealing. How happy I am, he writes, that my 
friend Marcus Cornelius, so distinguished as an orator 
and so noble as a man, thinks me worth praising and 
blaming ! l In another place he deems himself blest 
because Fronto had taught him to speak the truth ; 2 
although the context shows him to be speaking of 
expression, it is still, a point in favour of Fronto. A 
sincere heart is better than literary taste ; and if Fronto 
had not done his duty by the young prince, it is not easy 
to understand the friendship which remained between 
them up to the last. 

An example of the frankness which was between them 
is given by a difference they had over the case of 
Herodes Atticus. Herodes was a Greek rhetorician 
who had a school at Rome, and Marcus Aurelius was 
among his pupils. Both Marcus and the Emperor 
1 Ad M. Cjs., iii. 17. * iii. 12. 

Appendix 161 

Antoninus had a high opinion of Herodes ; and all we 
know goes to prove he was a man of high character and 
princely generosity. When quite young he was made 
administrator of the free cities in Asia, nor is it surprising 
to find that he made bitter enemies there; indeed, a 
just ruler was sure to make enemies. The end of it 
was that an Athenian deputation, headed by the orators 
Theodotus and Demostratus, made serious accusations 
against his honour. There is no need to discuss the 
merits of the case here ; suffice it to say, Herodes suc 
ceeded in defending himself to the satisfaction of the 
emperor. Fronto appears to have taken the delegates 
part, and to have accepted a brief for the prosecution, 
urged to some extent by personal considerations ; and 
in this cause Marcus Aurelius writes to Fronto as 
follows : 

AURELIUS C/ESAR to his friend FRONTO, greeting^ 

I know you have often told me you were anxious to 
find how you might best please me. Now is the time ; 
now you can increase my love towards you, if it can be 
increased. A trial is at hand, in which people seem likely 
not only to hear your speech with pleasure, but to see your 
indignation with impatience. I see no one who dares give 
you a hint in the matter ; for those who are less friendly, 
prefer to see you act with some inconsistency ; and those 
who are more friendly, fear to seem too friendly to your 
opponent if they should dissuade you from your accusation; 
then again, in case you have prepared something neat for 
the occasion, they cannot endure to rob you of your harangue 
by silencing you. Therefore, whether you think me a rash 
counsellor, or a bold boy, or too kind to your opponent, not 
because I think it better, I will offer my counsel with some 
caution. But why have I said, offer my counsel? No, I 
demand it from you ; I demand it boldly, and if I succeed, 
I promise to remain under your obligation. What ? you 
will say : if I am attackt, shall I not pay tit for tat ? Ah, 
but you will get greater glory, if even when attackt you 
answer nothing. Indeed, if he begins it, answer as you 
will and you will have fair excuse ; but I have demanded 

Ad M. C(fs., iii. 2. 

162 Appendix 

of him that he shall not begin, and I think I have succeeded. 
I love each of you according to your merits ; and I know 
that he was educated in the house of P. Calvisius, my grand 
father, and that I was educated by you ; therefore I am full 
of anxiety that this most disagreeable business shall be 
managed as honourably as possible. I trust you may 
approve my advice, for my intention you will approve. At 
least I prefer to write unwisely, rather than to be silent 

Fronto replied, thanking the prince for his advice, 
and promising that he will confine himself to the facts of 
the case. But he points out that the charges brought 
against Herodes were such, that they can hardly be made 
agreeable ; amongst them being spoliation, violence, and 
murder. However, he is willing even to let some of 
these drop if it be the prince s pleasure. To this Marcus 
returned the following answer : l 

This one thing, my dearest Fronto, is enough to make 
me truly grateful to you, that so far from rejecting my 
counsel, you have even approved it. As to the questions 
you raise in your kind letter, my opinion is this: all that 
concerns the case which you are supporting must be clearly 
brought forward; what concerns your own feelings, though 
you may have had just provocation, should be left unsaid. 

The story does credit to both. Fronto shows no loss 
of temper at the interference, nor shrinks from stating 
his case with frankness ; and Marcus, with forbearance 
remarkable in a prince, does not command that his 
friend be left unmolested, but merely stipulates for a fair 
trial on the merits of the case. 

Another example may be given from a letter of 
Fronto s : 2 

Here is something else quarrelsome and querulous. I 
have sometimes found fault with you in your absence some 
what seriously in the company of a few of my most intimate 
friends : at times, for example, when you mixt in society 
with a more solemn look than was fitting, or would read 
books in the theatre or in a banquet ; nor did I absent 
myself from theatre or banquet when you did. 3 Then I used 

1 Ad M. C,es., iii. 5. a iv. 12. 

a The text is obscure. 

Appendix 163 

to call you a hard man, no good company, even disagree 
able, sometimes, when anger got the better of me. But did 
any one else in the same banquet speak against you, I could 
not endure to hear it with equanimity. Thus it was easier 
for me to say something to your disadvantage myself, than 
to hear others do it ; just as I could more easily bear to 
chastise my daughter Gratia, than to see her chastised by 

The affection between them is clear from every page 
of the correspondence. A few instances are now given, 
which were written at different periods : 


This is how I have past the last few days. My sister 
was suddenly seized with an internal pain, so violent that I 
was horrified at her looks ; my mother in her trepidation on 
that account accidentally bruised her side on a corner of the 
wall ; she and we were greatly troubled about that blow. 
For myself, on going to rest I found a scorpion in my bed ; 
but I did not lie down upon him, I killed him first. If you 
are getting on better, that is a consolation. My mother is 
easier now, thanks be to God. Good-bye, best and sweetest 
master. My lady sends you greeting. 

2 What words can I find to fit my bad luck, or how 
shall I upbraid as it deserves the hard constraint which is 
laid upon me? It ties me fast here, troubled my heart is, 
and beset by such anxiety ; nor does it allow me to make 
haste to my Fronto, my life and delight, to be near him at 
such a moment of ill-health in particular, to hold his hands, 
to chafe gently that identical foot, so far as may be done 
without discomfort, to attend him in the bath, to support 
his steps with my arm. 

3 This morning I did not write to you. because I heard 
you were better, and because I was myself engaged in other 
business, and I cannot ever endure to write anything to you 
unless with mind at ease and untroubled and free. So if 
we are all right, let me know : what I desire, you know, 
and how properly I desire it, I know. Farewell, my master, 
always in every chance first in my mind, as you deserve to 
be. My master, see I am not asleep, and I compel myself 
to sleep, that you may not be angry with me. You gather 
I nm writing this late at night. 

1 Ad M. >:, v. 8. 2 i. 2. * iii. 21. 

164 Appendix 

1 What spirit do you suppose is in me, when I remember 
how long it is since I have seen you, and why I have not 
seen you I and it may be I shall not see you for a few days 
yet, while you are strengthening yourself, as you must. So 
while you lie on the sick-bed, my spirit also will lie low ; 
and, whenas, 2 by God s mercy you shall stand upright, my 
spirit too will stand firm, which is now burning with the 
strongest desire for you. Farewell, soul of your prince, your 
friend, your pupil. 

1 O my dear Fronto, most distinguished Consul ! I yield, 
you have conquered : all who have ever loved before, you 
have conquered out and out in love s contest. Receive the 
victor s wreath ; and the herald shall proclaim your victory 
aloud before your own tribunal : " M. Cornelius Fronto, 
Consul, wins, and is crowned victor in the Open Inter 
national Love-race." 4 But beaten though 1 may be, I shall 
neither slacken nor relax my own zeal. Well, you shall 
love me more than any man loves any other man ; but I, 
who possess a faculty of loving less strong, shall love you 
more than any one else loves you ; more indeed than you 
love yourself. Gratia and I will have to fight for it ; I 
doubt I shall not get the better of her. For, as Plautus says, 
her love is like rain, whose big drops not only penetrate the 
dress, but drench to the very marrow. 

Marcus Aurelius seems to have been about eighteen 
years of age when the correspondence begins, Fronto 
being some thirty years older. 3 The systematic educa 
tion of the young prince seems to have been finisht, and 
Fronto now acts more as his adviser than his tutor. He 
recommends the prince to use simplicity in his public 
speeches, and to avoid affectation. 6 Marcus devotes his 
attention to the old authors who then had a great vogue 
at Rome : Ennius, Plautus, Naevius, and such orators as 
Cato and Gracchus. 7 Fronto urges on him the study of 
Cicero, whose letters, he says, are all worth reading. 

1 Ad M. Cces., iii. 19. 

2 The writer sometimes uses archaisms such as quom, which I 
render whenas. 3 Ad M. Ctes., ii. 2. 

4 The writer parodies the proclamation at the Greek games ; the 
words also are Greek. 

8 From internal evidence : the letters are not arranged in order 
of time. See Naber s Prolegomena, p. xx. foil. 

6 Ad M. Cas., iii. I. 7 ii. 10, iii. 18, ii. 4. 

Appendix 165 

When he wishes to compliment Marcus he declares one 
or other of his letters has the true Tullian ring. Marcus 
gives his nights to reading when he ought to be sleep 
ing. He exercises himself in verse composition and on 
rhetorical themes. 

It is very nice of you, he writes to Fronto, 1 to ask for 
my hexameters ; I would have sent them at once if I had 
them by me. The fact is my secretary, Anicetus you know 
who I mean did not pack up any of my compositions for 
me to take away with me. He knows my weakness ; he 
was afraid that if I got hold of them I might, as usual, make 
smoke of them. However, there was no fear for the hexa 
meters. I must confess the truth to my master : I love 
them. I study at night, since the day is taken up with the 
theatre. I am weary of an evening, and sleepy in the day 
light, and so I don t do much. Yet I have made extracts 
from sixty books, five volumes of them, in these latter days. 
But when you read remember that the " sixty" includes plays 
of Novius, and farces, and some little speeches of Scipio ; 
don t be too much startled at the number. You remember 
your Polemon ; but I pray you do not remember Horace, 
who has died with Pollio as far as I am concerned. 2 Fare 
well, my dearest and most affectionate friend, most dis 
tinguished consul and my beloved master, whom I have 
not seen these two years. Those who say two months, 
count the days. Shall I ever see you again ? 

Sometimes Fronto sends him a theme to work up, 
as thus : M. Lucilius tribune of the people violently 
throws into prison a free Roman citizen, against the 
opinion of his colleagues who demand his release. For 
this act he is branded by the censor. Analyse the case, 
and then take both sides in turn, attacking and defend 
ing. 3 Or again: A Roman consul, doffing his state 
robe, dons the gauntlet and kills a lion amongst the 
young men at the Quinquatrus in full view of the people 
of Rome. Denunciation before the censors/" 4 The 
prince has a fair knowledge of Greek, and quotes from 

1 Ad M. Crs., ii. 10. 

2 He implies, as in i. 6, that he has ceased to study Horace* 
Pollio was a grammarian, who ta ght Marcus. 

8 Ad M. Cues., v. 27. * v. 23. 

1 66 Appendix 

Homer, Plato, Euripides, but for some reason Fronto 
dissuaded him from this study. 1 His Meditations are 
written in Greek. He continued his literary studies 
throughout his life, and after he became emperor we 
still find him asking his adviser for copies of Cicero s 
Letters, by which he hopes to improve his vocabulary. 2 
Fronto helps him with a supply of similes, which, it 
seems, he did not think of readily. It is to be feared 
that the fount of Marcus s eloquence was pumped up 
by artificial means. 

Some idea of his lit-, rary style may be gathered from 
the letter which follows : 3 - 

I heard Polemo declaim the other day, to say something 
of things sublunary. If you ask what I thought of him, 
listen. He seems to me an industrious farmer, endowed 
with the greatest skill, who has cultivated a large estate for 
corn and vines only, and indeed with a rich return of fine 
crops. But yet in that land of his there is no Pompeian fig 
or Arician vegetable, no Tarentine rose, or pleasing coppice, 
or thick grove, or shady plane tree ; all is for use rather 
than for pleasure, such as one ought rather to commend, 
but cares not to love. 

A pretty bold idea, is it not, and rash judgment, to pass 
censure on a man of such reputation ? But whenas I re 
member that I am writing to you, I think I am less bold 
than you would have me. 

In that point I am wholly undecided. 

There s an unpremeditated hendecasyllable for you. 
So before I begin to poetize, I ll take an easy with you. 
Farewell, my heart s desire, your Verus s best beloved, most 
distinguish! consul, master most sweet. Farewell I ever 
pray, sweetest soul. 

What a letter do you think you have written me ! I 
could make bold to say, that never did she who bore me 
and nurst me, write anything so delightful, so honey-sweet. 
And this does not come of your fine style and eloquence : 
otherwise not my mother only, but all who breathe. 

To the pupil, never was anything on earth so fine as 
his master s eloquence ; on this theme Marcus fairly 
bubbles over with enthusiasm. 

1 Ep. Gr,ectz, 6. 2 Ad Anton. Imp,, ii. 4. 

3 Ad M. Cces., ii. 5. 

Appendix 167 

1 Well, if the ancient Creeks ever wrote anything like 
this, let those who know decide it : for me, if I dare say so, 
I never read any invective of Cato s so fine as your encomium. 
O if my Lord 2 could be sufficiently praised, sufficiently 
praised he would have been undoubtedly by you ! This 
kind of thing is not done nowadays. 3 It were easier to 
match Pheidias, easier to match Apelles, easier in a word 
to match Demosthenes himself, or Cato himself, than to 
match this finisht and perfect work. Never have I read any 
thing more refined, anything more after the ancient type, 
anything more delicious, anything more Latin. O happy 
you, to be endowed with eloquence so great ! O happy 
I, to be under the charge of such a master ! O arguments, 4 

arrangement, O elegance, O wit, O beauty, O words, O 
brilliancy, O subtilty, O grace, O treatment, O everything ! 
Mischief take me, if you ought not to have a rod put in your 
hand one day, a diadem on your brow, a tribunal raised for 
you ; then the herald would summon us all why do I say 
" us " ? Would summon all, those scholars and orators : one 
by one you would beckon them forward with your rod and 
admonish them. Hitherto I have had no fear of this ad 
monition ; many things help me to enter within your school. 

1 write this in the utmost haste ; for whenas I am sending 
you so kindly a letter from my Lord, what needs a longer 
letter of mine ? Farewell then, glory of Roman eloquence, 
boast of your friends, magnifico, most delightful man, most 
distinguished consul, master most sweet. 

After this you will take care not to tell so many fibs of 
me, especially in the Senate. A monstrous fine speech this 
is ! O if I could kiss your head at every heading of it ! 
You have looked down on all with a vengeance. This 
oration once read, in vain shall we study, in vain shall we 
toil, in vain strain every nerve. Farewell always, most 
sweet master. 

Sometimes Pronto descends from the heights of 
eloquence to offer practical advice ; as when he suggests 
how Marcus should deal with his suite. It is more 
difficult, he admits, to keep courtiers in harmony than 
to tame lions with a lute ; but if it is to be done, it 

i Ad M. Cats., ii. 3. 

8 The Emperor Antoninus Pius is spoken of as dominus meus. 

* This sentence is written in Greek. 

* Several of these words are Greek, and the meaning is not quite 

1 68 Appendix 

must be by eradicating jealousy. Do not let your 
friends, says Fronto, 1 envy each other, or think that 
what you give to another is niched from them. . . . 
Keep away envy from your suite, and you will find your 
friends kindly and harmonious. 

Here and there we meet with allusions to his daily 
life, which we could wish to be more frequent. He 
goes to the theatre or the law-courts, 2 or takes part in 
court ceremony, but his heart is always with his books. 
The vintage season, with its religious rites, was always 
spent by Antoninus Pius in the country. The following 
letters give some notion of a day s occupation at that 
time : 3 

MY DEAREST MASTER, I am well. To-day I studied 
from the ninth hour of the night to the second hour of day, 
after taking food. I then put on my slippers, and from the 
second to the third hour had a most enjoyable walk up and 
down before my chamber. Then booted and cloaked for so 
we were commanded to appear I went to wait upon my lord 
the emperor. We went a-hunting, did doughty deeds, heard 
a rumour that boars had been caught, but there was nothing 
to see. However, we climbed a pretty steep hill, and in the 
afternoon returned home. I went straight to my books. 
Off with the boots, down with the cloak ; I spent a couple 
of hours in bed. I read Cato s speech on the Property of 
Pulchra, and another in which he impeaches a tribune. 
Ho, ho ! I hear you cry to your man, Off with you. as fast 
as you can, and bring me these speeches from the library 
of Apollo. No use to send : I have those books with me 
too. You must get round the Tiberian librarian; you will 
have to spend something on the matter; and when I return 
to town, I shall expect to go shares with him. Well, after 
reading these speeches I wrote a wretched trifle, destined 
for drowning or burning. No, indeed my attempt at writing 
did not come off at all to-day ; the composition of a hunter 
or a vintager, whose shouts are echoing through my 
chamber, hateful and wearisome as the law-courts. What 
have I said ? Yes, it was rightly said, for my master is an 
orator. I think I have caught cold, whether from walking in 
slippers or from writing badly, I do not know. I am always 
annoyed with phlegm, but to-day I seem to snivel more 
than usual. Well, I will pour oil on my head and go off 
I Ad M. C,fs., iv. i. 2 ii. 14. 3 ir. 5, 6. 

Appendix 169 

to sleep. I don t mean to put one drop in my lamp to-day, 
so weary am I from riding and sneezing. Farewell, dearest 
and most beloved master, whom I miss, I may say, more 
than Rome itsell. 

Mv BELOVED MASTER, I am well. I slept a little more 
than usual for my slight cold, which seems to be well again. 
So I spent the time from the eleventh hour of the night to 
the third of th day partly in reading in Cato s Agriculture, 
partly in writing, not quite so badly as yesterday indeed. 
Then, after waiting upon my father, I soothed my throat 
with honey-water, ejecting it without swallowing : I might 
say gargle, but I won t, though I think the word is found 
in Novius and elsewhere. After attending to my throat I 
went to my father, and stood by his side as he sacrificed. 
Then to luncheon. What do you think I had to eat ? A 
bit of bread so big, while I watched others gobbling boiled 
beans, onions, and fish full of roe. Then we set to work 
at gathering the grapes, with plenty of sweat and shouting, 
and, as the quotation runs, "A few high-hanging clusters 
did we leave survivors of the vintage." After the sixth hour 
we returned home. I did a little work, and poor work at 
that. Then I had a long gossip with my dear mother 
sitting on the bed. My conversation was : What do you 
think my friend Fronto is doing just now? She said: 
And what do you think of my friend Gratia? 1 My turn 
now : And what of our little Gratia, 2 the sparrowkin ? 
After this kind of talk, and an argument as to which of you 
loved the other most, the gong sounded, the signal that 
my father had gone to the bath. We supped, after ablutions 
in the oil-cellar I mean we supped alter ablutions, not 
after ablutions in the oil-cellar ; and listened with enjoy 
ment to the rustics gibing. After returning, before turning 
on my side to snore, I do my task and give an account of 
the day to my delightful master, whom if I could long for 
a little more, I should not mind growing a trifle thinner. 
Farewell, Fronto, wherever you are, honey-sweet, my 
darling, my delight. Why do I want you? I can love you 
while far away. 

One anecdote puts Marcus before us in a new light : s 

When my father returned home from the vineyards, I 
mounted my horse as usual, and rode on ahead some little 

i Fronto s wife. 2 Fronto s daughter. 

J Ad M. Cues., ii. 12. 

170 Appendix 

way. Well, there on the road was a herd of sheep, standing 
all crowded together as though the place were a desert, with 
four dogs and two shepherds, but nothing else. Then one 
shepherd said to another shepherd, on seeing a number of 
horsemen : I say, says he, look you at those horsemen ; they 
do a deal of robbery. When I heard this, I clap spurs to 
my horse, and ride straight for the sheep. In consternation 
the sheep scatter ; hither and thither they are fleeting and 
bleating. A shepherd throws his fork, and the fork falls on 
the horseman who came next to me. We make our escape. 

We like Marcus none the worse for this spice of 

Another letter l describes a visit to a country town, 
and shows the antiquarian spirit of the writer : 

M. CAESAR to his Master M. FRONTO, greeting. 

After I entered the carriage, after I took leave of you, 
we made a journey comfortable enough, but we had a few 
drops of rain to wet us. But before coming to the country- 
house, we broke our journey at Anagnia, a mile or so from 
the highroad. Then we inspected that ancient town, a 
miniature it is, but has in it many antiquities, temples, and 
religious ceremonies quite out of the way. There is not a 
corner without its shrine, or fane, or temple ; besides, many 
books written on linen, which belongs to things sacred. 
Then on the gate as we came out was written twice, as 
follows : "Priest don the fell." 2 I asked one of the inhabi 
tants what that word was. He said it was the word in the 
Hernican dialect for the victim s skin, which the priest puts 
over his conical cap when he enters the city. I found out 
many other things which I desired to know, but the only 
thing I do not desire is that you should be absent from me; 
that is my chief anxiety. Now for yourself, when you left 
that place, did you go to Aurelia or to Campania ? Be sure 
to write to me, and say whether you have opened the 
vintage, or carried a host of books to the country-house ; 
this also, whether you miss me ; I am foolish to ask it, 
whenas you tell it me of yourself. Now if you miss me and 
if you love me, send me your letters often, which is a 
comfort and consolation to me. Indeed I should prefer ten 
times to read your letters than all the vines of Gaurus or 
the Marsians ; for these Signian vines have grapes too rank 

1 Ad M. Ctfs., iv. 4. * Samentum. 

Appendix 171 

and fruit too sharp in the taste, but I prefer wine to must 
for drinking. Besides, those grapes are nicer to eat dried 
than fresh-ripe ; I vow I would rather tread them under 
foot than put my teeth in them. But I pray they may be 
gracious and forgiving, and grant me free pardon for these 
jests of mine. Farewell, best friend, dearest, most learned, 
sweetest master. When you see the must ferment in the 
vat, remember that just so in my heart the longing for you 
is gushing and flowing and bubbling. Good-bye. 

Making all allowances for conventional exaggerations, 
it is clear from the correspondence that there was deep 
love between Marcus and his preceptor. The letters 
cover several years in succession, but soon after the birth 
of Marcus s daughter, Faustina, there is a large gap. It 
does not follow that the letters ceased entirely, because 
we know part of the collection is lost ; but there was 
probably less intercourse between Marcus and Fronto 
after Marcus took to the study of philosophy under the 
guidance of Rusticus. 

When Marcus succeeded to the throne in 161, the 
letters begin again, with slightly increased formality on 
Fronto s part, and they go on for some four years, when 
Fronto, who has been continually complaining of ill- 
health, appears to have died. One letter of the later 
period gives some interesting particulars of the emperor s 
public life, which are worth quoting. Fronto speaks of 
Marcus s victories and eloquence in the usual strain of 
high praise, and then continues : l 

The army when you took it in hand was sunk in 
luxury and revelry, and corrupted with long inactivity. At 
Antiochia the soldiers had been wont to applaud at the 
stage plays, knew more of the gardens at the nearest 
restaurant than of the battlefield. Horses were hairy from 
lack of grooming, horsemen smooth because their hairs had 
been pulled out by the roots ;- a rare thing it was to see a 
soldier with hair on arm or leg. Moreover, they were better 
drest than armed ; so much so, that Laelianus Pontius, a 
strict man of the old discipline, broke the cuirasses of some 
of them with his finger-tips, and observed cushions on the 

1 Ad Veruin. Imp., ii. I, s. fin. 

2 A common mark of the eflcniinate at Rome. 

172 Appendix 

horses backs. At his direction the tufts were cut through, 
and out of the horsemen s saddles came what appeared to 
be feathers pluckt from geese. Few of the men could vault 
on horseback, the rest clambered up with difficulty by aid 
of heel and knee and leg; not many could throw a lance 
hurtling, most did it without force or power, as though they 
were things of wool. Dicing was common in the camp, 
sleep lasted all night, or if they kept watch it was over the 
winecup. By what regulations to restrain such soldiers 
as these, and to turn them to honesty and industry, did 
you not learn from Hannibal s sternness, the discipline of 
Africanus, the acts of Metellus recorded in history? 

After the preceptorial letters cease the others are 
concerned with domestic events, health and sickness, 
visits or introductions, birth or death. Thus the em 
peror writes to his old friend, who had shown some 
diffidence in seeking an interview : l 


I have a serious grievance against you, my dear master, 
yet indeed my grief is more than my grievance, because 
after so long a time I neither embraced you nor spoke to 
you, though you visited the palace, and the moment after I 
had left the prince my brother. I reproached my brother 
severely for not recalling me ; nor durst he deny the fault. 

Fronto again writes on one occasion : I have seen 
your daughter. It was like seeing you and Faustina in 
infancy, so much that is charming her face has taken 
from each of yours. Or again, at a later date : " 

1 1 have seen your chicks, most delightful sight that ever 
I saw in my life, so like you that nothing is more like than 
the likeness. ... By the mercy of Heaven they have a 
healthy colour and strong lungs. One held a piece of white 
bread, like a little prince, the other a common piece, like a 
true philosopher s son. 

Marcus, we know, was devoted to his children. They 
were delicate in health, in spite of Fronto s assurance, 
and only one son survived the father. We find echoes 

1 Ad Verum. Imp. Aur. Cas., i. 3. 

2 Ad Ant. Imp., i. 3. 

Appendix 173 

of this afle tion now and again in the letters. We 
have summer heat here still, writes Marcus, but since 
my little girls are pretty well, if I may say so, it is like 
the bracing climate of spring to us. 1 When little 
Faustina came back from the valley of the shadow of 
death, her father at once writes to inform Fronto. 2 The 
sympathy he asks he also gives, and as old age brings 
more and more infirmity, Marcus becomes even more 
solicitous for his beloved teacher. The poor old man 
suffered a heavy blow in the death of his grandson, on 
which Marcus writes : 3 I have just heard of your 
misfortune. Feeling grieved as I do when one of your 
joints gives you pain, what do you think I feel, dear 
master, when you have pain of mind? The old man s 
reply, in spite of a certain self-consciousness, is full of 
pathos. He recounts with pride the events of a long 
and upright life, in which he has wronged no man, and 
lived in harmony with his friends and family. His 
affectations fall away from him, as the cry of pain is 
forced from his heart : 

4 Many such sorrows has fortune visited me with all 
my life long. To pass by my other afflictions, I have lost 
five children under the most pitiful conditions possible : for 
the five I lost one by one when each was my only child, 
suffering these blows of bereavement in such a manner that 
each child was born to one already bereaved. Thus I ever 
lost my children without solace, and got them amidst fresh 
grief. . . . 

The letter continues with reflections on the nature 
of death, more to be rejoiced at than bewailed, the 
younger one dies, and an arraignment of Providence 
not without dignity, wrung from him as it were by 
this last culminating misfortune. It concludes with a 
summing-up of his life in protest against the blow which 
has fallen on his grey head : 

Through my long life I have committed nothing which 
might bring dishonour, or disgrace, or shame : no deed of 

1 Ad M. Ca:s.,v. 19. 2 iv. ii. 

3 De Nepote Amisso. * De Nepote Amisso, 2. 

174 Appendix 

avarice or treachery have I done in all my days : nay, but 
much generosity, much kindness, much truth and faithful 
ness have I shown, often at the risk of my own life. I have 
lived in amity with my good brother, whom I rejoice to see 
in possession of the highest office by your fathers goodness, 
and by your friendship at peace and perfect rest. The 
offices which I have myself obtained I never strove for by 
any underhand means. I have cultivated my mind more 
than my body ; the pursuit of learning I have preferred 
to increasing my wealth. I preferred to be poor rather 
than bound by any man s obligation, even to want rather 
than to beg. I have never been extravagant in spending 
money, I have earned it sometimes because I must. I have 
scrupulously spoken the truth, and have been glad to hear 
it spoken to me. I have thought it better to be neglected 
than to fawn, to be dumb than to feign, to be seldom a 
friend than to be often a flatterer. I have sought little, 
deserved not little. So far as I could, I have assisted each 
according to my means. I have given help readily to the 
deserving, fearlessly to the undeserving. No one by proving 
to be ungrateful has made me more slow to bestow promptly 
all benefits I could give, nor have I even been harsh to 
ingratitude. (A fragmentary passage follo\vs, in which he 
appears to speak of his desire for a peaceful end, and the 
desolation of his house.) I have suffered long and painful 
sickness, my beloved Marcus. Then I was visited by pitiful 
misfortunes : my wife I have lost, my grandson I have lost 
in Germany i 1 woe is me ! I have lost my Decimanus. If 
I were made of iron, at this time I could write no more. 

It is noteworthy that in his Meditations Marcus 
Aurelius mentions Fronto only once.- All his literary 
studies, his oratory and criticism (such as it was) is 
forgotten ; and, says he, Fronto taught me not to ex 
pect natural affection from the highly-born. Fronto 
really said more than this : that affection is not a 
Roman quality, nor has it a Latin name. 3 Roman or not 
Roman, Marcus found affection in Fronto ; and if he 
outgrew his master s intellectual training, he never lost 
touch with the true heart of the man ; it is that which 
Fronto s name brings up to his remembrance, not disser 
tations on compound verbs or fatuous criticisms of style. 

1 In the war a-jninst the Catti. 2 Page 4 above. 

3 Ad I era in, ii. 7. 


THIS being neither a critical edition of the text noi an 
emended edition of Casaubon s translation, it has not been 
thought necessary to add full notes. Casaubon s own notes 
have been omitted, because for the most part they are dis 
cursive, and not necessary to an understanding of what is 
written. In those which here follow, certain emendations 
of his are mentioned, which he proposes in his notes, and 
follows in the translation. In addition, one or two correc 
tions are made where he has mistaken the Greek, and the 
translation might be misleading. Those which do not come 
under these two heads will explain themselves. 

The text itself has been prepared by a comparison of the 
editions of 1634 and 1655. It should be borne in mind that 
Casaubon s is often rather a paraphrase than a close trans 
lation ; and it did not seem worth while to notice every 
variation or amplification of the original. In the original 
editions all that Casaubon conceives as understood, but not 
expressed, is enclosed in square brackets. These brackets 
are here omitted, as they interfere with the comfort of the 
reader ; and so have some of the alternative renderings 
suggested by the translator. In a few cases, Latin words 
in the text have been replaced by English. 

Numbers in brackets refer to the Teubner text of Stich, 
but the divisions of the text are left unaltered. For some 
of the references identified I am indebted to Mr. G. H. 
Kendall s Marcus Aurelius. 


p. i. "Both to frequent" (4). Gr. rb A}> C. conjectures rb ^. 

The text is probably right: "I did not frequent public 

lectures, and I was taught at home." 
p. 3. Idiots. . . . philosophers (9). The reading is doubtful, 

but the meaning seems to be: " simple and unlearned 




p. 5. "Claudius Maximus" (15). The reading of the Palatine 
MS. (now lost) was irapd/tX^crti Mai^tou, which C. sup 
poses to conceal the letters K\ as an abbreviation of 

p. 6. " Patient hearing. . . He would not" (16). C.translates 
his conjectural reading lirlfj.ovov &\\ov. 01} vpoa-r^ffrri 
. . . Slich suggests a reading with much the same sense : 
. . . ^Trifjiovof. d\X oCroi . . 

"Strict and rigid dealing" (10). C. translates rovCiv (Pa! 
MS.) as though from T&VOS, in the sense of "strain," 
"rigour." The reading of other MSS. nvSv is prefer 

p. 7. " Congiaries" (13). 8iavo/j.cus, "doles." 

p. 9. "Cajeta" (17). The passage is certainly corrupt. C. 

spies a reference to Chryses praying by the sea-shore in 

the Iliad, and supposes M. Aurelius to have done the 

like. None of the emendations suggested is satisfactory. 

p. 10. At xv. Book II. is usually reckoned to begin. 


p. 12. "Do, soul" (6). If the received reading be right, it 
must be sarcastic ; but there are several variants which 
show how unsatisfactory it is. C. translates " eD -yap 6 
/Siot exavTif sc. To/5 tavry," which I do not understand. 
The sense required is : " Do not violence to thyself, for 
thou hast not long to use self-respect. Life is not 
(v. 1. ov) <long> for each, and this life for thee is all 
but done." 

p. 15. "Honour and credit do proceed" (12). The verb has 
dropt out of the text, but C. has supplied one of the 
required meaning. 

p. 15. "Consider," etc. (12). This verb is not in the Greek, 
which means: "(And reason also shows) how man, 


p. 31. " Agathos" (18): This is prohably not a proper name, but 
the text seems to be unsound. The meaning may be 
"the good man ought . ." 

p. 32. oLKOvofj.ia.i (16) is a "practical benefit," a secondary end. 

p. 39. " For herein lieth all " (43). C. translates his conjecture 
&\or for 3\a. 


p. 49. Karopdua-fit (15): Acts of "Tightness" or " straightness."* 
p. 53. "Roarer" (28): Gr. "tragedian." Ed. I has "whore 
monger," ed. 2 corrects to "harlot," but omits to alter 
the word at its second occurrence* 

Notes 177 

p. 54. " Thou hat . . . them " (33) : A quotation from Homer, 

Odys:ty, iv. 690. 

p. 55. " One of the poets " (33) : Hesiod, Op. et Dies, 197. 
pp. 55-56. xxix. and xxx. (36). The Greek appears to contain 

quotations from sources not known, and the translation 

is a paraphrase. (One or two alterations are here made 

on the authority of the second edition.) 


p. 59. " Affected and qualified " (14) : ?fti, the power of cohesion 
shown in tilings inanimate ; <ww, power of growth seen 
in plants and the like. 

p. 61. " Wonder at them " (18) : i.e. mankind. 

p. 67. "Chrysippus" (42): C. refers to a passage of Plutarch 
De Communibus Notitiis (c. xiv.), where Chrysippus is 
represented as saying that a coarse phrase may be vile 
in itself, yet have due place in a comedy as contributing 
to a certain effect. 

p. 69. " Man or men . . ." (45). There is no hiatus in the 
Greek, which means : " Whatever (is beneficial) for a 
man is so for other men also." 

p. 69. xlii. There is no hiatus in the Greek. 


p. 74. ix. (ll). C. translates his conjecture n$i for 1j. The 
Greek means " straight, or rectified, with a play on 
the literal and metaphorical meaning of 6p(>os. 
p. 76. fv5a.ifj.ovia. contains the word dal/j-wv in composition. 
p. 79. " Plato" (35) : Republic, vi. p. 486 A. 

xxii. (31). The text is corrupt, but the words "or if it be 

but few " should be "that is little enough. 
p. 80. "It will," etc. (38): Euripides, Bcllerophon, frag. 287 


Lives," etc. (40): Euripides, Hypsipyle, frag. 757 (Nauck). 
As long," etc. (42) : Aristophanes, Acharna, 661. 
Plato" (44) : Apology, p. 28 B. 
For thus" (45) : Apology, p. 28 E. 

p. 80. 
p. 8l. 

Hut, O noble sir," etc. (46) : Plato, Gorgias, 512 D. 
And as for those parts," etc. (50). A quotation from 

Euripides, Chrysippus, frag. 839 (Nauck). 
"With meats," etc. (51): From Euripides, Supplied, 1 1 10. 
p. 84. xxxiii. (63) : " They both," i.e. life and wrestling. 

"Says he" (63): Plato, quoted by Epictetus, Arr. i. 28, 

2 and 22. 

p. 85. "How know we," etc. (66). The Greek means: "How 
know we whether Telauges were not nobler in character 
than Sophocles?" The allusion is unknown. 




p. 85. "Frost" (66): The word is written by Casaulxm as a 

proper name, " Pagus." 

"The hardihood of Socrates was famous"; ste Plato, 
Symposium, p. 220. 


p. 127. xxii. (24): The Greek means, "paltry breath bearing 

up corpses, so that the tale of Dead Man s Land is 

p. 127. " The poet " (21) : Euripides, frag. 898 (Nauck) ; compare 

Aeschylus, Danaides, frag. 44. 
p. 128. "Plato" (23): Theaetetus, p. 174 D. 
p. 132. "The poet" (34) : Homer, Iliad, vi. 147. 
p. 133. " Wood" : A translation of v\f], "matter." 
p. 134. " Rhetoric" (38) : Rather " the gift of speech"; or perhaps 

the " decree " of the reasoning faculty. 


p. 138. " Cithaeron " (6) : Oedipus utters this cry after discovering 
that he has fulfilled his awful doom. He was exposed 
on Cithaeron as an infant to die, and the cry implies 
that he wishes he had died there. Sophocles, Oedipus 
Tyrannus, 1391. 

" New Comedy . . .," etc. C. has here strayed from the 
Greek rather widely. Translate: "and understai d to 
what end the New Comedy was adopted, which by 
sm-.ll degrees degenerated into a mere show of skill in 
mimicry." C. writes Conuedia letus, Media, Nova. 
p. 140. " Phocion " (13): When about to be put to death he 
charged his son to bear no malice against the Athe 

p. 146. " My heart," etc. (31) : From Homer, Odyssey, ix. 413. 
" They will " (32) : From Hesiod, Opera et Dies, 184. 
" Epictetus" (34) : Arr. i. u, 37. 

p. 147. " Cut down grapes" (35) : Correct " ears of corn." 
"Epictetus" (36): Arr. 3, 22, 105. 


This Glossary includes all proper names (excepting a few which are 
insignificant or unknown), and all obsolete or obscure words. 

ADRIANUS, or Hadrian (76-138 
A.D. ), I4th Roman Emperor. 

Agrippa, M. Vipsanius (63-12 
B.C.), a distinguished soldier 
under Augustus. 

Alexander the Great, King of 
Macedonia, and Conqueror of 
the East, 356-323 B.C. 

Antisthenes of Athens, founder of 
the sect of Cynic philosophers, 
and an opponent of Plato, 5th 
century B.C. 

Antoninus Pius, ijth Roman Em 
peror, 138-161 A.D. , " one of the 
best princes that ever mounted 
a throne." 

Apathia : the Stoic ideal was 
calmness in ail circumstance 
an insensibility to pain, and 
absence of all exultation at, 
pleasure or good fortune. 

Apelles, a famous painter of an 

Apoilonius of Alexandria, called 
Dyscolus, or the " ill-tempered," 
a great grammarian. 

Aposteme, tumour, excrescence. 

Archimedes of Syracuse, 287 212 
B.C., the most famous mathe 
matician of antiquity. 

Athos, a mountain promontory at 
the N. of the ,-Egean Sea. 

Augustus, first Roman Emperor 
(ruled 31 B.C.-I4 A.D.). 

Avoid, void. 

BACCHILTS : there were several 
persons of this name, and the 
one meant is perhaps the 

Brutus (i) the liberator of the 
Roman people from their kings, 
and (2) the murderer of Cftsar. 
Both names were household 

OKSAR, C. Julius, the Dictator 
and Conqueror. 

Caieta, a town in Latium. 

Camillus, a famous dictator in 
the early days of the Roman 

Carnuntum, a town on the Danube 
in Upper Pannon.a. 

Cato, called of Utica, a Stoic who 
died by his own hand after the 
battle of Thapsus, 46 B.C. His 
name was proverbial for virtue 
and courage. 

Cautelous, cautious. 

Cecr ps, first legendary King of 

Charax, perhaps the priestly his 
torian of that name, whose date 
is unknown, except trnit it must 
be later than Nero. 

Chirurgeon, surgeon. 

Chrysippus, 280-207 B.C., a Stoic 
philosopher, and the founder of 
Stoicism as a systematic philo 

Circus, the Circus Maximus at 
Rome, where games we -e held. 
There were four companies who 
contracted to provide horses, 
drivers, etc. These were called 
Factiones, and each had its dis 
tinguishing colour: russata 
(red), albata (white), veneta 
(bl-ie), prasina (green). There 



was high rivalry between them, 
and riots and bloodshed not 

Cithaeron, a mountain range N. 
of Attica. 

Comedy, ancient ; a term applied 
to the Attic comedy of Aris 
tophanes and his time, which 
criticised persons and politics, 
like a modern comic journal, 
such as Punch. See New 

Compendious, short. 

Conceit, opinion. 

Contentation, contentment. 

Crates, a Cynic philosopher of the 
4th century B.C. 

Croesus, King of Lydia, prover 
bial for wealth ; he reigned 
560-546 B.C. 

Cynics, a school of philosophers, 
founded by Antisthenes. Their 
texts were a kind of caricature 
of Socraticism. Nothing was 
good but virtue, nothing bad 
but vice. The Cynics repudi 
ated all civil and social claims, 
and attempted to return to 
what they called a state of 
nature. Many of them were 
very disgusting in their manners. 

DEMETRIUS of Phalerum, an 
Athenian orator, statesman, 
philosopher, and poet. Born 
345 B.C. 

Democritus of Abdera (460-361 
B.C.), celebrated as the " laugh 
ing philosopher," whose con 
stant thought was " What fools 
these mortals be." He in 
vented the Atomic Theory. 

Dio of Syracuse, a disciple of 
Plato, and afterwards tyrant of 
Syracuse. Murdered 353 B.C. 

Diogenei, the Cynic, born about 
412 B.C., renowned for his rude 
ness and hardihood. 

Diognetus, a painter. 

Dispense with, put up with. 

Dogmata, pithy sayings, or philo 
sophical rules of life. 

EMPEDOCI.ES of Agrigernum, 8. 
5th century B.C., a philosopher, 

who first laid down that there 
were " four elements." He be 
lieved in the transmigration of 
souls, and the indestructibility 
of matter. 

Epictetus, a famous Stoic philo 
sopher. He was of Phrygia, at 
first a slave, then freedman, 
lame, poor, and contented. 
The work called Enchciridion 
was compiled by a pupil from 
his discourses. 

Epicureans, a sect of philosophers 
founded by Epicurus, who 
" combined the physics of De 
mocritus, "i.e. the atomic theory, 
" with the ethics of Aristippus." 
They proposed to live for happi 
ness, but the word did not bear 
that coarse and vulgar sense 
originally which it soon took. 

Epicurus of Samos, 342-270 B.C. 
Lived at Athens in his "gar 
dens," an urbane and kindly, 
if somewhat useless, life. His 
character was simple and tem 
perate, and had none of the 
vice or indulgence which was 
afterwards associated with the 
name of Epicurean. 

Eudoxus of Cnidus, a famous as 
tronomer and physician of the 
4th century B.C. 

FATAL, fated. 

Fortuit, chance (adj.). 

Fronto, M. Cornelius, a rhetori 
cian and pleader, made consul 
in 143 A.D. A number of his 
letters to M. Aur. and others 
are extant. 


tributary of the 

HEUCE, ancient capital city of 
Achaia, swallowed up by an 
earthquake, 373 B.C. 

Helvidius Priscus, son-in-law of 
Thrasea Paetus, a noble man 
and a lover of liberty. He was 
banished by Nevo, and put to 
death by Vespasian. 

Heraclitu-; of KpVsus, who lived 
in tae 6ih century B.C. He 



wrote on philosophy and natural 

E-Ierculaneum, near Mount Vesu 
vius, buried by the eruption of 
79 A.D. 

Hercules, p. 167, should be 
Apollo. See Muses. 

Hiatus, gap. 

Hipparchus of Bithynia, an astro 
nomer of the 2nd century B.C., 
" The true fatherof astronomy. " 

Hippocrates of Cos, about 460-357 
B.C. One of the most famous 
physicians of antiquity. 

IDIOT, means merely the non-pro 
ficient in anything, the " lay 
man," he who was not techni 
cally trained in any art, craft, 
or calling. 

LEONNATUS, a distinguished 

general under Alexander the 

Lucilla, daughter of M. Aurelius, 

and wife of Verus, whom she 


MAECENAS, a trusted adviser of 
Augustus, and a munificent 
patron of wits and literary men. 

Maximus, Claudius, a Stoic philo 

Menippus, a Cynic philosopher. 

Meteores, TO, /j.fTeupo\oyiKd, 
" high philosophy," used spe 
cially of astronomy and natural 
philosophy, which were bound 
up with other speculations. 

Middle Comedy, something 
" midway" between the Old and 
New Comedy. See Comedy, 
Ancient, and New Comedy. 

Middle things, p. 80. The Stoics 
divided all things into virtue, 
vice, and indifferent things ; but 
as indifferent " they regarded 
most of those things which the 
world regards as good or bad, 
such as wealth or poverty. Of 
these, some were "to be de 
sired," some " to be rejected." 

Muses, the nine deities who pre 
sided over various kinds of 
pcesy, music, etc. Their leader 

was Apollo, one of whose titles 
is Musegetes, the Leader of the 

NKRVES, strings. 

New Comedy, the Attic Comedy 
of Menander and his school, 
vthich criticised not persons but 
manners, like a modern comic 
opera. See Comedy, Ancient. 

PALESTRA, wrestling school. 

Pancratiast, competitor in the 
pancratium, a combined contest 
which comprised boxing and 

Parmularii, gladiators armed with 
a small round shield (parma). 

Pheidias, the most famous sculp 
tor of antiquity. 

Philippus, founder of the Mace 
donian supremacy, and father 
of Alexander the Great. 

Phocion, an Athenian general and 
statesman, a noble and high- 
minded man, 4th century B.C. 
He was called by Demosthenes, 
"the pruner of my periods." 
He was put to death by the 
State in 317, on a false suspicion, 
and left a message for his son 
" to bear no grudge against the 

Pine, torment. 

Plato of Athens, 429-347 B.C. He 
used the dialectic method in 
vented by his master Socratei. 
He was, perhaps, as much poet 
as philosopher. He is generally 
identified with the Theory of 
Ideas, that things are what they 
are by participation with our 
eternal Idea. His " Common 
wealth " was a kind of Utopia. 

Platonics, followers of Plato. 

Pompeii, near Mount Vesuvius, 
buried in the eruption of 79 A.D. 

Pompeius, Cn. Pompeius Magnus, 
a very successful general at the 
end of the Roman Republic 
(106-48 B.C.). 

Prestidigitator, juggler. 

Pythagoras of Samos, a philo 
sopher, scientist, and moralist 
ot ihe 6th century B.C. 

1 82 


QUADI, a tribe of S. Germany. 
M. Aurelius carried on war 
against them, and part of this 
book was written in the field. 

RICTUS, gape, jaws. 

Rusticus, Q. Junius, or Stoic 

philosopher, twice made consul 

by M. Aurelius. 

SACRARY, shrine. 

Salaminius, p. 85, Leon of Sala- 
mis. Socrates was ordered by 
the Thirty Tyrants to fetch him 
before them, and Socrates, at 
his own peril, refused. 

Sarmatae, a tribe dwelling in 

Sceletum, skeleton. 

Sceptics, a school of philosophy 
founded by Pyrrho (4th century 
B.C.). He advocated " suspen 
sion of judgment," and taught 
the relativity of knowledge and 
impossibility of proof. The 
school is not unlike the Agnostic 

Scipio, the name of two great sol 
diers, P. Corn. Scipio Afncanus, 
conqueror of Hannibal, and P. 
Corn. Sc. Afr. Minor, who came 
into the family by adoption, 
who destroyed Carthage. 

Secutoriani (a word coined by C. ), 
the secutores, light-armed gladi 
ators, who were pitted against 
others with net and trident. 

Sextus of Chaeronea, a Stoic philo 
sopher, nephew of Plutarch. 

Silly, simple, common. 

Sinuessa, a town in Latium. 

Socrates, an Athenian philosopher 
(469-309 B.C.), founder of the 
dialectic method. Put to death 
on a trumi. cd-up charge by his 

Stint, limit (without implying nig 

Stoics, a philosophic system foun 
ded, by Zeno (4th century B.C.), 
and systematised by Chrysippus 
(3rd century B.C.). Their phy 
sical theory was a pantheistic 
materialism, their summum 
bonum "to live according to 
nature." Their "wise man" 
needs nothing, he is sufficient 
to him-elf ; virtue is good, vice 
bad, external things indifferent. 

THEOPHRASTUS, a philosopher, 
pupil of Aristotle, and his suc 
cessor as president of the 
Lyceum. He wrote a large 
number of works on philosophy 
and natural history. Died 287 

Thnuea, P. Thrasea Psetus, a 
senator and Stoic philosopher, 
a noble and courageous man. 
He was condemned to death by 

Tiberius, 2nd Roman Emperor 
(14-31 A.D.). He spent the 
latter part of his life at Capreae 
(Capri), off Naples, in luxury 
or debauchery, neglecting his 
imperial duties. 

To-torn, torn to pieces. 

Trajan, i3th Roman Emperor, 

52-117 A.D. 

VERUS, Lucius Aurelius, colleague 
of M. Aurelius in the Empire. 
He married Lucilla, daughter 
of M. A. , and died 169 A.D. 

Vespasian, gth Roman Emperor 
(9-79 A.D.). 

XENOCRATES of Chalcedon, 396- 
314 B.C., a philosopher, and 
president of the Academy. 

B 580 .C38 1906 SMC 
Marcus Aurel ius. 
Meditations 47089746